Saturday, 26 March 2016

Fairest of All

Fairest of All: A tale of the Wicked Queen
Author: Serena Valentino
Publisher: Parragon Books
Release Date: 18th January 2016

Blurb (Taken from back of book):
How did the Wicked Queen become so evil?
When the King asks for her hand in marriage, the beautiful daughter of a cruel mirror-maker accepts, hoping her fortunes will change for the better... but will they?
This is the untold tale of love, loss and dark magic behind the classic story of Snow White.

Let's talk about the cover: I won't lie, I originally bought this book on impulse.  If you asked me, I would say that you should never judge a book by it's cover, but unfortunately we are all guilty of it.  The first thing you see about a new book in a book shop is the cover, and I was drawn to this one.  I recognised the Queen on the front of it as the Evil Queen from Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  After reading the back it quickly became mine as I love reading fairy tale adaptions.  The great thing about this cover is that when you turn it over the back opens up as the Wicked Witch; her alter ego.  Therefore the open books gives you both sides of her face put together.  I also know that the original hard back version had the Evil Queen's face on the sleeve, and if removed, showed the Wicked Witch's face.  Very Clever!

Review: We all know the supposed story of the Evil Queen that plagued Snow White's life and planned her death to ensure that her own beauty was superior to others in her kingdom.  This story gives her side of the tale, giving the reader another point of view, and making them doubt the sincerity of her hateful actions towards Snow White.  Fairest of All gives the reader a new look at the Queen and shows us that she wasn't always evil.  Everyone villain has a story, as we are learning from Disney with their new line of movies showing us the background to some of our favourite characters.  In this book we see how the Queen started out as a loving mother to a young Snow White when her husband, Snow's Father is killed in battle.  It is a series of dark events that happen after that, that turn her into the self absorbed and power hungry Queen that we know in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  
The book also provides a new and refreshing look at the Magic Mirror, giving the reader some food for thought with a fascinating relationship between the Queen and the Mirror.  This new idea gives the warped sense of necessity that the Queen seemed to have for needing to be the 'Fairest of them all' a darker and slightly Freudian outlook.  Her need to feel pretty stemmed back to her childhood with her Father, and could therefore only be satisfied by trying to fix the rift in that relationship.
Something that I did notice, was that even though the entire book is about her and her story, almost acting as a prequel to Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, we never learn her name.  Going right back the the Grimm tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Snow White's evil stepmother never had a name.  The Queen in Walt Disney's version did have a name; Queen Grimhilde, though she was rarely referred to as anything other than the Evil Queen, or the Wicked Queen.  So I find it rather bizarre that the book meant to give us an insight into the woman's life, and to help us to understand her better, didn't find it necessary to name her.

Lastly, I found it interesting that the book is copyrighted to Disney, which is the reason the book uses the Disney character on the cover, but also means that the author used direct characters in her book with permission from the originals.  This would suggest that Disney accept Serena Valentino's ideas and approve her storyline.  

Where as I enjoyed the idea of this story, and loved getting to know the Queen in a new way, I found this book quite hard going and was a little disappointed once I found myself at the end.  I think I had expected more from the story and wanted to get to know the Queen more.  It started out reasonably good, but seemed to lose it's way somewhere in the middle.

Rating: 3 Stars
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All opinions are my own and not encouraged by the authors, editors, publishers or any other company involved in the production of the book mentioned in the above post.

Click on the image of the book cover to go to Amazon where you can purchase your own copy of the book and follow the link set on the author's name to head over to their website.

Other books mentioned in this post are The Grimm Tales (The copy I have included is a reasonably expensive, leather bound edition as I believe this book should be something special.  Cheaper copies, and paper back editions are available too)
Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Again this is just one copy - I picked the Ladybird edition purely because it is the version I own; other copies are available)


  1. Ooh what a great idea to have the cover reflect both sides of the Queen! Too bad the prose inside didn't quite live up to the packaging.

    1. Don't get me wrong Aylee, it was a good storyline, I think I just expected more from it. I have loads of random stories that I have collected over the years that are based on the fairy tales, and this one just didn't pack the same punch as the others.
      Vanessa x