Monday, 27 May 2013

Poison Review

Sarah Pinborough

Publisher: Gollancz

A beautiful, sexy, contemporary retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale, illustrated by Les Edwards. 
POISON is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the Snow White story which takes all the elements of the classic fairytale that we love (the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and, of course, the poisoning) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires.

One of the first stories we ever hear are fairy tales with charming princes rescuing the sweet naive Princess from evil stepmothers and magic enchantments so these classic tales get lodged in our collective consciences. And it was with both anticipation and trepidation that I approached this adult version of the children’s story of Snow White – the ‘true story’ as it was always meant to be.

Despite the small page count – just 200 pages, this is definitely an adult version with sex and swearing, but is still simply told, managing to capture the feel of classic fairy tales. Interestingly, despite being the story of Snow White, the tale is told mostly from the point of view of other characters – the wicked Stepmother, one of the dwarves and the handsome Prince and gives a very different interpretation of their roles and motivations from the simplified version. I particularly liked getting to know Lilith, the stepmother who managed to become three-dimensional character with her own issues and her descent into wickedness was an intriguing addition to the story. The prince also has a very different role from his usual handsome rescuer position. Yet, despite these twists many of the expected notes are included in the story from seven dwarves, the huntsman, the old crone with the apple and the magic mirror, but none happens exactly as you had expected.

Overall, Poison has a charisma and instinctive appeal that will stay with you long after you finish reading with the story of Snow White in your own mind subtly different from before. I loved the wider world Sarah Pinborough hints at behind Snow White’s story with hints and glimpses of other fairy stories. This gentle teasing has whetting appetite for Charm and Beauty, two more sexed up fairy tales from Sarah coming soon.

Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman and Malinda Lo. 8 out of 10


  1. Oh right, I have seen the other cover

  2. Seeing 'adult' versions of fairy tales always interests me, partly because I want to know what the author did with the source material, and partly because I know that the source material is always far darker than the Disneyfied version most people are familiar with nowadays. Usually sex and foul language doesn't need to be added to the original story to make it dark and disturbing. till, definitely curious to see what was done with this one.

  3. You might also like Ember, a different, darker, definitely adult take on Cinderella. Sounds like it's in much the same vein as Poison. Plus it's short and only 77p on the kindle!

  4. Oh it sounds so great! I'm curious about this one. THe cover is pretty nice too!

  5. I do enjoy retellings especially when the previously 2D characters are fleshed out quite a bit. Oh you have me curious and I would love to know more about those secondary characters. I'm also guessing that Beauty is the Beauty and the Beast retelling and I'd be all over that one. :D