Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss

Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss
Published by Mythic Delirium Books on February 5, 2019
Genres: Fairy Tales, Short Stories, Fantasy
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Purchase on: Amazon// Barnes & Noble
Add to: Goodreads

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


A young woman hunts for her wayward shadow at the school where she first learned magic—while another faces a test she never studied for as ice envelopes the world. The tasks assigned a bookish boy lead him to fateful encounters with lizards, owls, trolls and a feisty, sarcastic cat. A bear wedding is cause for celebration, the spinning wheel and the tower in the briar hedge get to tell their own stories, and a kitchenmaid finds out that a lost princess is more than she seems. The sea witch reveals what she hoped to gain when she took the mermaid’s voice. A wiser Snow White sets out to craft herself a new tale.
In these eight stories and twenty-three poems, World Fantasy Award winner Theodora Goss retells and recasts fairy tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde. Sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, always lyrical, the works gathered in SNOW WHITE LEARNS WITCHCRAFT re-center and empower the women at the heart of these timeless narratives.


I had been meaning to read anything by Theodora Goss for the longest time (The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter has been on my bookshelf for far too long.) Now, after reading Snow White Learns Witchcraft, I really need to read more by Goss. It was an amazing anthology that struck such deep emotion, whether through its poems or short stories.

The very first poem in the anthology, and also its namesake, set the tone instantly – Snow White Learns Witchcraft. In bringing back the term witchcraft to its origin — of wise women that were both revered for their ability to heal and help and feared for their refusal to fall in line — and pairing it with fairy tales of damsels in distress, Goss subverts the genre. There is no clearer warning about what to expect in the rest of the anthology than one of the ending stanzas of this first piece:

I’ll walk along the shore collecting shells,
read all the books I’ve never had the time for,
and study witchcraft. What should women do
when they grow old and useless? Become witches.
It’s the only role you get to write yourself.

The short stories that follow, along with additional poetry, all feel fresh and are enjoyable, and yes, I did cry at least once while reading the anthology (Conversations with the Sea Witch destroyed me.) The writing is superb, as is the pacing. That Goss is able to draw so much emotion with each short story (I mean, it’s only 224 pages long total with 31 short stories and poems) speaks to her abilities as an amazing writer. Not once did I feel as though a story was rushed, or that I was missing a piece of it. They felt complete and whole, just as they are, which is hard to do with shorts.

I know buying anthologies is always a bit of a gamble. You never know if it’s going to be full of goodies or duds. But please, let me tell you, Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss is an absolute hit and so worth taking a leap of faith on!


Leave a Reply