Six-Gun Snow White

Unlike most retellings of fairytales, with familiar plots and characters in a different setting, Catherynne M. Valente's Six-Gun Snow White offers readers an entirely new story that gestures toward the original without taking on the traditional trappings. In Valente's version, readers find no dwarves, poison apples or prince, but the tale maintains a deep connection to the original. In an American West as mythical as Snow White, narrated in rough dialect, Valente firmly nestles readers in an unpredictable, gun-toting adventure.

Mr. H makes his fortune in Nevada's silver mines using his supernatural knack for finding precious gems. Just as the earth gives itself to him, so, too, he expects people to do what he wants. Mr. H forces a Crow woman to marry him by threatening her family and their land, but the woman dies after giving birth to their daughter. He keeps his daughter hidden on his expansive property, building her a private secluded world. Her only companion is her gun, with which she is an expert shot. By the time Mr. H remarries, his first marriage and his daughter have long been forgotten by all. When the new wife discovers the young girl and attacks her for her dark skin, she mocks the daughter by giving her the name Snow White. After suffering years of abuse, Snow decides to run away, beginning her adventure.

Valente creates moments where readers recognize allusions to the original fairytale of Snow White, like a tavern having only seven barstools. Yet readers encounter these nods with a thrill of the unexpected. Six-Gun Snow White gives this old story new magic. --Justus Joseph, bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company

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