Review: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynn Valente

April 6, 2015 4 stars, Audio Book, Book Review 11 ★★★★

Review: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynn ValenteSix-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
Published by Dreamscape Media on June 10, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy
Length: 3 hours
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

From New York Times bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente comes a brilliant reinvention of one the best known fairy tales of all time. In the novella Six-Gun Snow White, Valente transports the title's heroine to a masterfully evoked Old West where Coyote is just as likely to be found as the seven dwarves.

A plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother's death in childbirth, so begins a heroine's tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, readers will be enchanted by this story at once familiar and entirely new.


Six-Gun Snow White is a creative western style retelling. I loved the setting of the old west and how it featured her not as royalty but as the half Native American, half Caucasian daughter of some sort of silver tycoon. Her mother didn’t really marry her father of her own free will and passed away when she was born. She spends her life hidden away from society because during those times there was so much prejudice against Native Americans, and likely her father didn’t want it known he’s married one and fathered a half native child.

He does however dote on her in his own way. He built her a boardwalk carnival type place overlooking the sea. She would spend her days playing there and enjoying the company of her pet animals until the day comes when her father remarries.

Her twisted step mother is the one that gives her the name Snow White as a jibe for her skin tone since she does not have white skin. So starts the demented relationship between these two. The step mother tormenting her with trying to turn her into a lady, at times I wondered if she even cared for her in her own twisted way. She essentially makes her a house slave and gives her strange baths in attempts to change her skin color and practically starves her. When she reaches a certain age she decides she can take no more of her step mother’s brand of love and runs away and the story continues from there including the classic elements of the Snow White story but in new and fitting ways with this setting and tale.

The elements included in the retelling (least the ones I remember)

– the magic mirror – yes it’s there and creepier then other versions of Snow White I’ve experienced
– a fleeing Snow White who is good with guns and will work the mines for food. Oh and she can totally kick ass
– the huntsman who is actually a bounty hunter, yeah you’re in for it buddy
– seven dwarves…of course they aren’t dwarves
– poisoned apples amongst other things
– There be no Prince here will at least not in my opinion

Ultimately it was a really creative retelling. I do so love westerns (well when I’m in the mood for them hah!) While there are magic elements to the story I didn’t feel like they were even necessary and at times felt a bit out of place or odd to me. I have nothing against odd because hey that makes things interesting but in this case it would have been just as good if these elements weren’t there at all.

Thoughts on the audio narration

I really enjoyed it especially the voicing dorm for the step mother. It’s amazing just how much of a personality can be conveyed by the tone of voice. That is exactly what is accomplished here. She is haughty and cold and yet carrying in a twisted way which all came thru in her voice. I definitely recommend the audio. It was an extremely quick listen.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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11 Responses to “Review: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynn Valente”

  1. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    As a fan of Catherynne Valente, I’d heard of this one before BUT I had never read a review for it. This sounds wholly unique for a retelling and I love the new elements added into the usual classic Snow White themes. Glad you enjoyed this one 🙂
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  2. Kim { Book Swoon }

    I’m a fan of unique reinvented Fairy Tales and with its Wild West vibe this should be a must on my tbr list. I haven’t tried many audio narrations, but this sounds like the step mothers was done especially well. I have not read her adorable sounding Fairyland series (need too one day) but I can highly recommend her book “In the Night Garden” which is thought was amazing. I’m going to make sure to add this to my wishlist/tbr!
    Thanks for the lovely review, Tabitha 🙂
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