Saturday, May 18, 2019

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino Review

Title: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen
Author: Serena Valentino
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Villains, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                I was reading an article a few weeks ago and discovered that Serena Valentino’s series of retellings of Disney villains’ origins is becoming a TV series, so I decided to start it. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now, but I couldn’t renew it anymore, so I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I was finished with The Guest Book. I adored this adaptation of Disney’s first villain; it really gave a new perspective on how Grimhilde became The Wicked Queen. It humanized her, and I very much enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read the rest of this book series, especially since it’s officially concluding in July!

                Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. A beautiful girl, a jealous queen, an apple, and a happy ending. We think we know the story. But what about The Wicked Queen’s side of things? How did she become so evil? Fairest of All imagines an origin for Grimhilde, the only daughter of a renowned mirror maker. Plucked from obscurity when her father passes away, she marries the King and becomes Snow White’s stepmother. Fairest of All documents the queen’s decline from a loving wife and mother to a monster capable of killing her own child. I really liked this book; I love retellings, but one of my favorite things is one told from the point of the view of the villain. The writing was simple but gorgeous, and the pacing was really nice. I liked how it took the Disney movie and expanded on it. This book really made me sympathize with The Wicked Queen, and I loved watching her descent into the darkness. The ending, too, really redeemed this book; I loved the continuity of it. One thing I can’t help wondering about, though, is the mysterious Odd Sisters. If it hadn’t been for them, would Grimhilde have stayed good? Or would her envy and insecurities have gotten the better of her anyway? A thought-provoking novel about beauty, envy, insecurity, and society’s heavy and unrealistic expectations for women, I never imagined that before now, I would ever feel sorry for The Wicked Queen! I can’t wait for the next books in this deliciously dark new series! The bottom line: Beautifully written, dark and seductive, I loved Fairest of All, and I can’t wait to read more from Serena Valentino! Next on deck: America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott!

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