A witch, a girl, and a “dwarf” propel this modern retelling of “Snow White.”
Bullied but kind Violet Appel gives herself a magical makeover, becoming beautiful but bitter, the fairest in Florida but still friendless. A few years (and a convenient animal attack) later, she marries Greg Columbo, recent widower and Violet’s long-term obsession, and meets his pale-skinned, dark-haired daughter, Celine. When Violet grows violent, Celine seeks refuge with her new friend, Goose Guzman, hiding in his house with several (but not seven) other little people and his unbelievably sympathetic parents. While Goose provides comic relief, his dwarfism is handled respectfully, highlighting discrimination along with adaptations. When Celine falls ill, Goose—raised on 1980s movies and fantasies featuring dwarves—rides to the rescue, seeking out the Justin Bieber–like Jonah Prince, consoling a television damsel-in-distress, and battling a witch. Goose’s chapters outshine Violet’s and Celine’s; his language is natural and unstilted, he is more complex than sweet Celine or wicked Violet, he struggles to accept the existence of magic and hesitates before doing death-defying stunts. Light-fantasist Flinn (Towering, 2013) hits the major notes of the familiar story while incorporating plenty of pop culture, but she sometimes sets aside logic and character development for Disney-esque drama and clear moral messages.
Flinn’s fans should enjoy this latest entry, though lovers of serious fantasy may want to look elsewhere for a grimmer and subtler retelling. (Fantasy. 12-18)