I picked up Phyllis Carol Agins' Suisan (Baen Books, 1992) in my favorite used book store last summer in Stratford because I mistook the title for my own first name. Six months later, I grabbed it to read pretty much at random, and was startled to find that just when I'd been playing around with twisting "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," here was someone who'd already done it. I didn't much care for the results, however.
It's competently written, and it started out interestingly enough, working from the dwarfs' point of view, with them being distinctly faerie-like (webbed feet!) and each having his own special expertise in their mingled mining and magic. This part is fascinating.
Then it got, well, icky.
These things start with a dwarf being sexually tortured and raped, forced to have sex with a (average-sized) woman, then being plied with aphrodisiacs until he participates enthusiastically. It's squalid and repulsive and put me deeply off the whole book.
Nor do I need one of the dwarfs -- who may not be entirely, or at all, a dwarf; it's a bit fuzzy -- sexually obsessed with Snow White/Suisan, masturbating while taking drugs designed to make him taller, and trying to force himself on her, then hanging himself when she goes off with her prince, leaving his decomposing body to be found much later by the other dwarfs.
This...this is not fun. If it's meant to help sell some sort of point about the sexual undertones of the story -- some variation on how female sexuality spoils things for that old gang of boys? the dangerous allure of women ruining otherwise wholesome men? -- well, sorry, I'm not buying. It just feels gratuitous and ugly.
I'm not prudish about sex in fiction. I could see rewriting this particular tale as a p0rno romp complete with a dwarf orgy or three (or seven) and maybe some quasi-necrophilia with the sleeping Snow White. Rammstein has a go at a kinky variation on the theme in their video for "Sonne". But this is not p0rn, nor intended to be. I do not like this kind of gruesome sexual stuff mixed into my non-p0rn fantasy novels unless it's attached to a villain.
And really, it's a terrible waste of some interesting dwarfs. I wouldn't have minded reading more about the mysteries of their history and where the dwarf women are and why these guys are alone in the middle of the woods. There are plenty of hints about some nifty background worldbuilding, but no answers. Snow White/Suisan's story is something of a distraction from this, and rather tedious to boot. I wish Agins had just ditched the classic story -- and the creepy sexual stuff -- and written a sequel about the dwarfs going off to find their homeland. That seems to be where they're heading at the end...but it's the end. No more story.
I can't recommend this book, but here's a link in case you find this kind of stuff more tolerable than I do: