[[caption-width-right:266:What did the mirror see?]]
Once upon a time, there was a mirror.
So begins a dark retelling of "Literature/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs" by British fantasy author Creator/TanithLee. Arpazia is the daughter of a pagan lord who is under attack by the Christian king Draco. Her old nurse tells the girl that her father will give her wings to escape the fighting, which Arpazia doesn't understand... until her father [[PaterFamilicide places a knife on the table]]. Realizing she is going to die if she stays, Arpazia and her maid try to flee, but end up running right into Draco's army. Draco rapes Arpazia, after which she curses him. Fearing the curse, he marries her. Nine months later, Arpazia gives birth to a little girl who is white as snow, black as wood, and red as blood, the curse she had conjured thrown back at her.
As Arpazia [[SanitySlippage loses touch with reality more and more]], her daughter Candacis, called Coira, is brought up away from her parents by her uncaring nurse. It is not until the day her father consults an oracle when she is seven years old that she first truly sees her mother and, platonically, falls in love with her. Unfortunately for the girl, the mother's love is in that same instant given to a handsome young hunter with [[FisherKing deep ties to the old gods of the land]].
Enter the Myth/ClassicalMythology elements as Coira grows up with one foot in the Christian world and one foot in the land's pagan roots.
!!''White as Snow'' provides examples of:
* AdultsAreUseless: Coira's parents ignore her, her nurse mostly resents her, and her nurse's replacement fails to explain a few very important things. No wonder Coira isolates herself so much.
** Two: With the prominence of black and white and the mirror, dualities are common.
** Three: The maiden, mother, and crone feature heavily.
* BastardBastard: Hadz. He's tyrannical, a murderer, and he [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking shouts his own name during sex]].
* BigScrewedUpFamily: A lot of the major characters are Draco's bastard children and issues arise from how well he treated them.
* BlackEyesOfEvil: Arpazia and Coira have "[[IcyBlueEyes cold water eyes]]" normally, a color that's not quite blue or gray, but when their pupils dilate, their eyes appear to be black. With Arpazia in particular, this is taken as a sign of witchcraft, or at least insanity.
* BrokenBird: Arpazia and Coira.
* BrotherSisterIncest: Coira and Hadz are more likely than not half-siblings.
* CoolAndUnusualPunishment: As in the original fairy tale, Arpazia is given hot iron "shoes."
* CrapsackWorld: There is no joy anywhere in this story. Even before Arpazia marries Draco, her father doesn't seem to be so great himself.
* CreepyChild: Coira, who scares her nursemaid by refusing to talk for long stretches at a time.
* DeathOfTheOldGods: Subverted. While Christianity is spreading, even the priests dance in the woods at full moon.
* DemotedToExtra: Draco features prominently in the first few chapters and later disappears from the book aside from being mentioned now and then.
* DisappearedDad: Draco goes off and creates a new capital city with a new queen who gives him sons and forgets Arpazia and Coira. Subverted in that they don't miss him and soon leave the city themselves.
* DudeShesLikeInAComa: She really is. It's not death this time.
* EmotionlessGirl: Coira, to the point that she scares people.
* FairestOfThemAll: Arpazia is more interested in her lost youth, which she believes Coira represents. But she does want to be beautiful i.e. find the girlhood that was stolen from her.
* FirstGrayHair: While working a spell that requires three hairs, Arpazia vaguely notices one of them is gray. Subverted in that Arpazia doesn't really have any sense of how old she is anymore, and is so disconnected from reality that she believes she's still a young girl.
* FisherKing: The king of the wood. When Arpazia hurts him, there's a visible change in the world around her.
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: Arpazia scares the crap out of everyone, including her giant warlord husband.
* Myth/GreekMythology: This novel is a retelling of Snow White using the myth of Demeter and Persephone.
* GreenEyes: Vinka.
* HairOfGoldHeartOfGold: Coira dreams that her real mother is a beautiful young blonde woman who is kind and gentle and loving. She imagines that this woman died and Arpazia took her place.
* TheHecateSisters: Symbolized in particular by gowns Arpazia wears over the course of the story, one white, one russet, and one black. Arpazia is forced out of her maidenhood too soon because of Coira's birth, and she rejects motherhood, leaving her to become a crone at all of thirty-three. Most notably, when Coira appears in a white gown, Arpazia is wearing a black one.
* IcyBlueEyes: Arpazia and Coira.
* KickTheDog: Arpazia rejects Coira's declaration of love.
* LadyInRed: At the height of her beauty and power, Arpazia is seen wearing a particular red gown. This is the period of her life where she gets to explore her sexuality. The gown also symbolizes the mother. A man remembers Coira wearing a red dress, symbolic of a stage in life she hasn't reached yet. She corrects him, saying it was green.
* LightFeminineAndDarkFeminine: The two sides of the princess, the part of her that is Candacis and the part of her that is Coira. To highlight the dichotemy she is sometimes called Coira-Candacis.
* MadonnaWhoreComplex: How men in the story view Coira and Arpazia in particular, but women in general.
* MagicMirror: Subverted. The mirror is only "magic" because Arpazia is losing her mind and treats it as such, combined with the superstitions of the people.
* MandatoryMotherhood: Arpazia doesn't want to be a mother, but between her rape and Draco needing an heir, she must be.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: Particularly everything regarding the mirror. Is it actually talking to Arpazia, or is it all in her head?
** Both of the princess's names, as well as others.
** Candacis is stated to mean something to do with "fiery whiteness." (Actually Candacis is a a variant of Candace, which means "Mother Queen".)
** Coira refers to Kore, or Persephone.
** Draco, the dragon.
** Orion, Arpazia's lover, a hunter, and king of the wood. It's implied that this isn't his real name, but it is used for the mythological connections.
*** Another name of his is Klymeno, referring to Clymenus, one of Hades's names.
** Hephaestion: Stormy's real name. His mother threw him to his supposed death as a child, ruining his legs.
** Hadz, ruler of a subterranean realm, was given the name specifically for his similar circumstance to the god Hades.
* MirroredConfrontationShot: Arpazia and Coira have a moment like this, in text not in artwork. Though they look so alike as to nearly be identical, at Scorpion Moon the two of them meet with mirroring movements during a dance. Coira is wearing white as she has pure black hair while Arpazia is wearing black and the emerging white in her hair stands out.
** Arpazia's mother died, they tell the girl, at Arpazia's birth.
** Arpazia herself is such a non-presence in Coira's life that Coira thinks her real mother is dead and Arpazia is a stepmother.
* NearRapeExperience: Draco almost rapes Arpazia a second time, but her complete refusal to respond reminds him of a corpse and he's too disgusted to continue.
* OffingTheOffspring: Played entirely straight. Arpazia is Coira's mother, not her stepmother.
** The princess's Christian name is Candacis. Everyone calls her Coira, a pagan name, that her nurse gave her.
** Arpazia's lover is known as Klymeno and as Orion. His real name is never disclosed, even to Arpazia.
* RavenHairIvorySkin[=/=]EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette: Arpazia and Coira, depending on how creepy they are at the moment. Both women are acknowledged to be very beautiful--Arpazia before she somehow becomes a thirty-year-old crone and Coira after she turns eighteen and comes into her own--but the mother's flares of temper and the daughter's talent for complete stillness and silence frighten people to the point that their beauty almost isn't worth it.
* RealWomenHaveCurves: Invoked. When Arpazia's pregnancy shows (barely) at her wedding, it is assumed to be her natural shape.
* RedOniBlueOni: Kaya and Julah.
* SanitySlippage: Arpazia slips further and further from reality over the years.
* SecretOtherFamily: Subverted. Draco's other queen and children aren't secret at all.
* SevenDeadlySins: The seven dwarves put on a play where each of them plays a sin.
* SheCleansUpNicely: Coira.
* Literature/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs: A retelling of this fairy tale.
* TellMeAboutMyFather: Subverted with Coira's father, whom she has no interest in. Played straight with her mother.
* ThatThingIsNotMyChild: Arpazia's reaction to her baby.
* ThoseTwoGirls: Coira's maids Kaya and Julah, who happen to be her bastard half-sisters.
* UncannyFamilyResemblance: Coira looks exactly like Arpazia to the point that she is almost a symbol for her lost childhood.
** Weirdly deliberately invoked in the text when the nurse forgets Coira is eight, not seven. Coira keeps this up over time, making the wrong age her princess age similar to how Candacis is her princess name.
** Arpazia's age, in her own mind, is also vague as she can't seem to remember if she's a teenager, in her twenties, or in her thirties.
* VainSorceress: Everyone calls Arpazia "the witch" and takes note of how much she decorates herself before going to her mirror. Subverted in that she doesn't actually have magic.
* VictorianNovelDisease: Coira becomes violently ill after Arpazia refuses to have anything to do with her.
* VillainProtagonist: Arpazia.
** Arpazia when Coira first realizes how much she loves her mother. This is the first of Arpazia's three important gowns, symbolizing the maiden.
** Coira when her mother takes her into the woods at age eight.
** Coira during Scorpion Moon at eighteen, where she takes up the role of the maiden.