Review: Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

28814844Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: NetGalley
Publication Date: September 13th 2016
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Point of View: /
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fairy Tale Retellins, Snow White, Graphic Novels

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Award-winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan delivers a darkly stylized noir Snow White set against the backdrop of Depression-era Manhattan.

The scene: New York City, 1928. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words “Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL.” In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page—and draws a striking distinction between good and evil.


I kid you not when I say that it took me 5 minutes – no more, no less – to read this graphic novel.

Why? Because it contains scarce series of dialogs.

And that’s a problem, even though the aquarelle illustrations are beautiful, because it takes away from the substance of the story.

When I say that the illustrations are pretty to look at, I do mean it, but they are also quite simple.

It works to release a peculiar atmosphere which in return releases emotions inside the reader and enthrals him/her, but if we compare this work to The Arrival by Shaun Tan, for instance, which contains no dialog at all, we can see the difference in quality.

The Arrival is rich in world-building, whereas Snow White: A Graphic Novel has a different style, a simpler one, therefore the world-building is, too.

But it’s charming and very worth the read. You won’t feel as if you wasted your time. I mean, remember it only took me 5 minutes to get to the finish line of this book.

The best part is definitely analysing the alterations that were made to make this another version of the classic Snow White story.

The dwarfs are adorable. Aside from the lovely Snow herself, they are what warms this cold dark – depressive, almost – retelling.

It was impossible to slow down my reading pace, unless I wanted to take time to admire the graphics over and over again (which I would have done if they were more detailed), so this is truly my main problem with this book.

Otherwise, it’s a book I’m pleased made its way into this world. If I were the sort of person to collect fairy-tales or share an undying love for graphic novels, I’d buy this without a flicker of thought.


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4 thoughts on “Review: Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

  1. I recently read this and had similar thoughts about the lack of dialogue. At first I though something was wrong with my review copy. I needed more of a balance between the illustrations and words to fully connect with what was happening…but in the end I still enjoyed it.


  2. I don’t think it took me five minutes, but I do remember it being pretty much a quick read, yeah. I was kind of hoping there’d be more substance to it, since if you took away the ’20s feel I thought it was just a straight-up telling of the original story. The artwork is lovely, though!


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