{Guest Post + Giveaway!} David Meredith: The Macabre Origins of Faerie Tales

While I love Disney, I remember that The Little Mermaid as I read it as a child as one of the saddest stories I'd ever read. She never ended up with the Prince, she became sea foam. When author David Meredith contacted me with his novel The Reflections of Queen Snow White, I was intrigued. What does happen after "happily ever after"?

David is also giving away two e-books (Kindle edition) to my lucky readers.

Read on and find out what the original fairy tales were really like. Welcome, David!

The Macabre Origins of Faerie Tales and The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith 

Once upon a time and happily ever after – these words are synonymous with the faerie tale genre. Just you name it – Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid – the version of these tales with which most of us are familiar all begin and end with these two phrases, and neatly encapsulate everything that they imply. The poor princess faces adversity. Then the handsome prince swoops in, saves the day, they find love, and life remains blissful ever after… at least in the Disney retelling ...

However, most faerie tales in their original forms were not nearly so benign nor so kid friendly. Most were dark, violent, and decidedly adult. It is this darkness that I have sought to capture and reintroduce in The Reflections of Queen Snow White, but let me take a moment to illustrate my point.

Little Red Riding Hood by Carl Larson
(from Wikipedia)
1. In the original version of Little Red Riding Hood there is no Woodsman and Grandma does not make an appearance. Rather the wolf simply tricks Red into going the wrong way in the forest, kills her, and eats her… The end. The wolf wins.

2. Similarly, in the original version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the bears find Goldie in Baby Bear’s bed and summarily rip her to pieces.

3. In the original Cinderella, she did in fact have animal friends, only these didn’t sew her a dress. Instead, the pigeons noticed the blood gushing from the glass slipper as the evil step sisters tried it on (having cut off half their foot to make it fit) warned the prince, and pecked afore mentioned sisters’ eyes out leaving them lame, blind beggars for the rest of their lives.

The Little Mermaid by Edmund Dulac
(from Wikipedia)
4. In the original Little Mermaid, the little mermaid character is convinced by her sisters to stab the prince to death in his sleep on his wedding night when he falls in love with and marries someone else and then dribble his blood over her feet to turn them back into a tale. (She chooses to die herself instead at the last minute and turns into sea foam).

5. In the original version of Sleeping Beauty, the handsome prince does not wake her with a sweet kiss. Instead, he rapes her while she’s asleep, gets her pregnant (twice) and it is only when those children reach toddler age and one of them sucks on his mother’s finger (removing the magic splinter that caused the sleeping spell in the first place) that she awakens. She quickly discovers that the prince is in fact married already, but don’t worry! His wife is actually an “evil ogress” so it’s okay when they murder her. Then Sleeping Beauty lives happily ever after… married to her homicidal rapist husband.

Originally, faerie tales were intended for adults, but because they were also popular with children many elements (especially overtly sexual elements) were cut out (for example in the original version of Rapunzel, the witch discovers about the prince’s visits by asking Rapunzel why her clothes look so tight - implying that she is pregnant), and major revisions were made to the literary versions which have survived (as opposed to those of the oral tradition which have largely faded) to make them more kid- friendly (although it should be noted that a lot of earlier revisions like the Victorian Grimm rewrite for example actually made the stories more violent, especially when punishing the villain).

I have taken The Reflections of Queen Snow White back to those original adult origins to tell what is essentially a very human story about overcoming a childhood of abuse and neglect, coping with grief, and finding purpose again when “happily ever after” ends.

Here is the synopsis:

What happens when "happily ever after" has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven's wedding; an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven's fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White's own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead. The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what "happily ever after" really Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

So far the reviews have been remarkably positive and I hope all of you will take the time to read it for yourselves. It is available on Amazon here: US or UK

Thanks so much to Aloi for hosting me today!


About David Meredith 

David Meredith is an up and coming American author and veteran educator working out of the Nashville area. Before returning to Tennessee in 2010, he spent nearly a decade teaching English in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan.

Feel free to check out my Facebook page, my web page!
Follow me on Twitter.  I’m also on Linked-In!

Also: Rising Shadow Reviews 


  1. This book popped up on my radar in March when someone I follow on GoodReads gave it five stars. Fairy tale retellings seem to be very popular today, but this sounds like a refreshing take on the trend. For example, I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of Once Upon a Time but while it offers up interesting twists on classic fairy tales, it still really clings to the idea of 'true love'. I've never imagined a fairy tale princess late in life without her prince. Sounds like a good story to me!

    1. What came to my mind was Disney's Enchanted, but that also keeps the true love idea alive. I think it's an interesting premise too! Good luck, Reno!

  2. The books you feature almost always grab my attention... this is no exception. I LOVE the original fairy tales, as I've always been a little macabre. :)

  3. Thanks for this fascinating glimpse into the world which I rarely enter but am very interested in. This was extremely captivating. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com


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