I've always loved this fairytale, so I was very excited to see a re-telling of it done, especially as a spicy sort of story.
However, I have some mixed feelings about the rendition. I liked how Williams re-told the story without losing the spirit of the original and it was definitely titillating enough. However, I thought that it was hard to suspend belief at times, especially with regards to making a fairytale a more believable story. For example, I wondered how their little family survived, since it didn't seem like they had proper jobs. Then, I thought that the war and Tarquin just sort of came out of nowhere and didn't really contribute that much to the story and just muddied the waters. It would have been much better if it had seemed that Tarquin and Rose Red had a romance going on, but it just seemed strange what Rose Red's reaction was. Also, I didn't find it at all believable that she would have had sex with someone without getting married first and out in the open. That was almost acceptable compared to what the dwarf caught her doing and told Colm about -- now that was just unbelievable and utterly out of place. Not to mention how fast her relationship with Colm changed.
I would have liked the story to have focused a lot more on developing Rose Red's character and her relationship with the bear. As it was, I almost didn't know why the two of them were together since they barely interacted throughout the story. There definitely needed to be a lot more back-story on the dwarf, the bear, and there really needed to be a lot more relationship development between Rose Red and the bear.
I will be looking out for Snow White's adventures because what was said was interesting and now I'm deathly curious -- but if that re-telling falls short, I might not pick up more of Gwen Williams' stories.
Length: 99 pages
"Rose Red, Rose Red, would you have your suitor dead?"
During one bleak, bitterly cold winter’s night, Black Bear seeks refuge at the hearth in Rose Red’s cottage. Knowing that it is wrong to have feelings for an ursine creature, Rose Red stifles her longing for him. Heartbroken at Black Bear’s departure in the springtime, she wonders if she will ever find a man who possesses the same warmth of spirit and tenderness as her beloved Black Bear. As she seeks love in a string of unsuitable—and ultimately unworthy—suitors, her thoughts keep returning to Black Bear and the magical feelings he evoked in her. How is it possible that she can possess such feelings for Black Bear, a creature of the forest, and not even human?