The Queen’s Tale

Wicked stepmothers sometimes get a bit of a hard time in fairytales, but in Kaye Umansky’s retelling of Snow White it’s difficult not to have at least a little sympathy for the vain yet charismatic narrator. Sure, she’s a little evil – she mixes poisons in her secret lair, spends all of her husband’s money on shoes, and is already bored with her Magic Mirror (“so last year”!). But her stepdaughter, the endlessly perky (and perhaps just a tiny bit stupid) Snow White, is so utterly annoying that readers will completely understand that the only solution is to – well, plot to have her killed.

This is a fun retelling of a classic fairytale and ideal for readers of eight plus (readers over the age of thirteen may find it a little unsatisfying, though), and like Barrington Stoke’s other books it is particularly suitable for reluctant readers or those with reading difficulties. Illustrations from Alexandre Honoré help flesh out the world, and provide some of the detail about the setting that would slow down the pace of the story if included in the narrative. The book is short but packs a lot in, and there are plenty of funny moments – often to do with the queen’s utter disdain for “drippy” Snow White. By the end it’s impossible not to root for the wicked stepmother and hope that she gets her own ‘happily ever after’!