The inspiration for Black as Night: A Fairy Tale Retold was one of the most well-known of the classic fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. Most people know the story of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" thanks to the Disney animated version, but few are familiar with the original version, with its three encounters between the disguised queen and Snow White. Those who would like to compare my work with the original tale find it below.
Little Snow White
by the Brothers Grimm
from the version published by Andrew Lang in his Blue Fairy Tale Book
ONCE upon a time, in the middle of winter when the snow-flakes were falling like feathers on the earth, a Queen sat at a window framed in black ebony and sewed. And as she sewed and gazed out to the white landscape, she pricked her finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell on the snow outside, and because the red showed out so well against the white she thought to herself: `Oh! what wouldn't I give to have a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony!'
And her wish was granted, for not long after a little daughter was born to her, with a skin as white as snow, lips and cheeks as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony. They called her Snow White, and not long after her birth the Queen died.
After a year the King married again. His new wife was a beautiful woman, but so proud and overbearing that she couldn't stand any rival to her beauty. She possessed a magic mirror, and when she used to stand before it gazing at her own reflection and ask: `Mirror, mirror, hanging there, Who in all the land's most fair?' it always replied: `You are most fair, my Lady Queen, None fairer in the land, I ween.' Then she was quite happy, for she knew the mirror always spoke the truth.
But Snow White was growing prettier and prettier every day, and when she was seven years old she was as beautiful as she could be, and fairer even than the Queen herself. One day when the latter asked her mirror the usual question, it replied: `My Lady Queen, you are fair, 'tis true, But Snow White is fairer far than you.' Then the Queen flew into the most awful passion, and turned every shade of green in her jealousy. From this hour she hated poor Snow White like poison, and every day her envy, hatred, and malice grew, for envy and jealousy are like evil weeds which spring up and choke the heart.
At last she could endure Snow White's presence no longer, and, calling a huntsman to her, she said: `Take the child out into the wood, and never let me see her face again. You must kill her, and bring me back her lungs and liver, that I may know for certain she is dead.' The Huntsman did as he was told and led Snow White out into the wood, but as he was in the act of drawing out his knife to slay her, she began to cry, and said: `Oh, dear Huntsman, spare my life, and I will promise to fly forth into the wide wood and never to return home again.' And because she was so young and pretty the Huntsman had pity on her, and said: `Well, run along, poor child.' For he thought to himself: `The wild beasts will soon eat her up.' And his heart felt lighter because he hadn't had to do the deed himself. And as he turned away a young boar came running past, so he shot it, and brought its lungs and liver home to the Queen as a proof that Snow White was really dead. And the wicked woman had them stewed in salt, and ate them up, thinking she had made an end of Snow White for ever.
Now when the poor child found herself alone in the big wood the very trees around her seemed to assume strange shapes, and she felt so frightened she didn't know what to do. Then she began to run over the sharp stones, and through the bramble bushes, and the wild beasts ran past her, but they did her no harm. She ran as far as her legs would carry her, and as evening approached she saw a little house, and she stepped inside to rest. Everything was very small in the little...