“The Snow King” by Rhidian Brenig Jones from Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales from Bold Strokes Books, 2014. Edited by Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman.
Yep, this is the second story in this collection and the third within the past twenty reviews to be based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.
Here, Kai and Gerda are renamed Remi and Dara, and they are both male and twenty years of age. They are lovers, living an idyllic life when, wouldn’t you know it, a shard of ice flies into Remi’s eye and he becomes bewitched. Immediately he withdraws from Dara, and begins to grow cruel in all his interactions. One night Dara wakes to find Remi outside in the snow, mesmerized by a mysterious, bearded, dark-haired man who is clad only in a long fur coat. As with the last re-telling, the sexual attraction between Remi and the Snow King is much clearer and less creepy than that of Kai and the Snow Queen. Dara looks on, horrified, until they vanish before his eyes. A hunting party the next day cannot find any trace of the two. I loved the fact that the townspeople all seem fully aware of the relationship between Dara and Remi and offer him their condolences on the loss of his love.
Dara’s mother then tells him about the Snow King, and that he must journey north to rescue Remi. The long chase scene which comprises the original tale is boiled down to just one pit stop—in the realm of eternal summer, ruled this time around by a Sorcerer—before Dara has his big confrontation with the Snow King.
Overall, I am still not crazy about this story, but that’s not this writer’s fault. I really don’t like Kai/Remi’s lack of free will. I will say that of the four (Andersen’s, plus Short Stories 365/304 and 316 and this), I like this one the most.