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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fairest of All ~ guest review from Stephanie

We've got a double-header from Stephanie of Chasm of Books today - over on A Backwards Story, she's sharing her thoughts on Heather Dixon's Entwined, and here at TBR she's talking to us about Fairest of All! Check out what she had to say below!

I went into this book expecting a light-hearted tale written for elementary school children. And for the first half, it seemed like that was how the rest of the tale would be told. To my great surprise, the Wicked Queen becomes very wicked and the tale is, in my opinion, no longer appropriate for elementary children below grade six. It takes a... wicked turn. I've honestly never been the biggest fan of the Snow White fairy tale. But Fairest of All made it a whole lot more enjoyable.

The Queen starts out with just about zero confidence and completely surprised that the King (Snow White's father) could love her and think she is beautiful. Her life is changing and for the first time, she finds herself happy. And then the mirror appears.... She can instantly feel the evil in the mirror. But she ignores it for a long time and (throughout the book) actually gets rid multiple times. One way or another, it came back every time.

The driving force behind the Queen’s motives was her father’s opinion of her. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the loving father we all desire. Marred by her father’s treatment, she is haunted by it more than ever after the King’s death. Even after her father’s death, his opinions and twisted thinking are (through the mirror) still able to reach the Queen. The mirror declares her beauty and she finds a warped comfort in her ensuing revenge.

Fairest of All is really the story of the Wicked Queen’s obsession with the magic mirror. She becomes so obsessed with the mirror and her beauty that when she doesn't ask it who's fairest, her attitude changes and she becomes cranky and unpleasant. She depends on it for her "happiness" and doesn't even realize that she's become addicted to the constant affirmation of her beauty. This obsession alters her very being. We watch her transform from this sweet woman and into a cold witch who desires people to fear her. I honestly think that she diminishes her beauty from the inside and that that's the reason why Snow White is able to surpass her beauty later on.

As we all know, eventually the Queen resents Snow's beauty. The Queen is powerful and is herself, also very beautiful, but it still isn't enough and she can't tolerate anyone being considered more beautiful than her or even just a rival. She becomes so selfish that she won't even allow her own daughter to be happy and is jealous when Snow finds love while the Queen's heart still mourns the death of her husband.

The Queen’s obsession leads her to try and kill her own daughter. I mean, we all knew that already but Fairest of All really brings that action and event into real perspective, especially after we've watched the Queen literally transform into the villain.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this book a lot. It turned out to be far more than I expected it to be, which was great. After the Queen turned wicked, there were some pretty creepy images floating about for one chapter. Short but intense.

The book really focused on the Queen so I didn’t really feel attached to any of the other characters in any way. I was actually worried that the author would give Snow White more emphasis as the story progressed but she didn’t, which is something I really liked. It kept the story from becoming Snow White’s and confined it within the Queen’s own lonely world.

In short, Fairest of All  was a great book. If you're expecting a happy ending, I suggest you stop now. Valentino ended the book on a complete note but the story was about the villain. And unfortunately, villains don't get pleasant, happy endings. They usually die. I'm serious though, read it.

~ Stephanie

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