Review // Fairest of All by Serena Valentino

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Title // Fairest of All
Author // Serena Valentino
Page // 250 pages
Publisher // Disney Press
Series // Villain Tales, #1
Release Date // August 2009
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon

The tale of the young princess and her evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen, is widely known. Despite a few variations from telling to telling, the story remains the same–the Queen was jealous of the girl’s beauty, and this jealousy culminated in the Queen’s attempt on the sweet, naive girl’s life.

Another tale far less often spoken of is the one that explains what caused the Queen to become so contemptuously vile. Still, some have attempted to guess at the reason. Perhaps the Queen’s true nature was that of a wicked hag and her beautiful, regal appearance a disguise used to fool the King. Others claim that the Queen might have hated the girl for her resemblance to the King’s first wife. Mostly, the Queen is painted as a morally abhorrent woman who never loved another being during the course of her miserable life.

In fact, the theories about exactly what cause the Queen’s obsessive vanity and jealous rage are too numerous to catalog. This book recounts a version of the story that has remained untold until now. It is a tragic tale of love and loss, and it contains a bit of magic. It is a tale of the Wicked Queen…

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Growing up, I fell in love with the stories my parents read to me. I wanted to be Snow White who met seven charming little men. I wanted to be Aurora, who needed a prince to kiss away the Evil Queen’s enchantment. More than anything, I wanted to be Belle, who fell in love with reading and eventually, tamed a man turned into a beast for being cruel. One thing was positive growing up – I adored fairy stories. Perhaps it was my inner child that was channelled when I noticed Fairest of All sat on my local Waterstones bookshelves. Or perhaps it was the elegant but minimalist cover on the front. Either way, may attention was drawn by this story from the moment I reached for it – much like Aurora when she reaches out for the spindle doomed to send her into a hundred-year sleep.

As she took Snow in her arms, she was filled with a love she had never known. She though the weight of that love might cause her heart to burst, and in a secret place buried deep within her heart she wished somehow she could absorb the beauty of this child, so she herself would truly be beautiful.

Nobody ever gives much sympathy for the Evil Queen in Sleeping Beauty. That I guess is not too much of a shock. After all, she is so bad that she doesn’t have a first name. No – she is referred to only as the Evil Queen. What was great about this story was the fact that an author had imagined the Queen’s life, before and after her wrongdoing. Suddenly the Evil Queen is not so evil, and what she did to Snow almost seems justified. (Okay, maybe not. But this book made me feel incredibly harsh for ever bad feelings towards the Queen.) The Queen is a character that you can’t help but feel for. She hasn’t had an easy life up until meeting the King, and she isn’t actually a bad person. Instead she becomes entangled within a web of magic, misguided faith and terrible heartbreak. Fairest of All highlights how easy it can be for us to fall into the darkness that tries to capture us, as well as showing us that it is never too late to go back and right your wrongs.

She had never had a reason to come into this room, and truth be told, she had tried to avoid it. It was full of fragments of her old life. And now, it felt as if she were stepping into a cold, dark crypt.

The story is definitely a cautionary tale to others – something that brings a fairy tale to life.  This tale? Look for approval within yourself, and not from others. Oh, and don’t trust triplets! That’s a very important one! The Queen starts out as a maiden, plucked by the King who adores her beauty (inner and outer). The Queen’s progression into royalty and dealing with the issues that then befalls her is a tale in which I found captivating and moving. Of course, I am not about to spoil the story for you – but I can say that you will see the REAL side of the Queen in Fairest of All. Also, you get to see the story of Snow White from another angle. As the story moves along in time, we watch Snow progress into a woman who manages to keep her faith no matter what has befallen her. Her kindness and bravery stems from the story of the Queen – a woman who (no matter what happens) will always be her mother and an important figure in her life.

The Queen had stopped celebrating the solstice after her mother had died. How lovely it would have been to experience this as a little girl. Part of her envied Snow, really.

Fairest of All is a moving insight into the world hidden by Disney movies. It would be interesting to see this book made into a live-action movie. It would probably follow along the lines of Maleficent, which isn’t really a bad thing in my opinion. This is definitely a story I would re-read, and took considerably less time to read than usual. It’s easy-reading, fast pace and moving story of light and dark is gripping, and evidently beautiful in hindsight. Fairest of All makes me proud to be a lover of all things childish. 5 out of 5.

Lots of passionate hugs and kisses, my wonderful blogosphere.
x o

5 stars

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