Fairest of All by Serena Valentino/DisneyPress

 

 

[Click the cover below¬†to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]

[There were no really good images to go on with this cover, pretty sad because it’s gorgeous]

 

“For anyone who’s seen Walt Disney’s Snow White, you’ll know that the Wicked Queen is one evil woman! After all, it’s not everyone who wants to cut out their teenage step-daughter’s heart and have it delivered back in a locked keepsake box. (And even if this sort of thing is a common urge, we don’t know many people who have acted upon it.)”

[…wat?]

 


 

Right now, Disney has been/is on this kick about making their villains sympathetic/have tragic backstories that sort of take away from their ‘evilness’ and instead make you feel bad for them.

I hate this. Some people — are just evil. You should leave them to be just evil. Not everyone has a reason for being evil, they just are.

It’s why I hated what they did with Maleficent, and why I have been grumbling forever ever since they announced they’d be making an origin movie about Chernabog [the giant mountain demon from the ‘Night on Bald Mountain‘ segment of the first Fantasia who is, you know, been called literally Satan himself].

This book is apart of a book series Disney is doing for their villains to give them backstories. I received this as a gift as sort of a ‘oh hey – you like the Disney Villains, right? This made me think of you!’ which is incredibly sweet and it made me really happy, but as soon as I figured out what this book even was, I was like ‘…oh.’

Especially for this character, whose literal name is ‘The Evil Queen.’ She isn’t often assigned a name [I think she is in the original Snow White tales but I think its been lost and changed multiple times over many years] other than being Evil, a Witch/Sorceress, who also so happens to be a Queen.

Now before we go onto the assigned story, I have to say that physically [and aesthetically] this book is beautiful. The sleeve feels super smooth and silky, the image of the Queen looks like an old oil painting, and the cover is a smooth matte black with gloss black lettering. The spine is my favorite shade of ash violet. It’s fuckin’ gorgeous. Though surprisingly short in actual height. It’s like they wanted to go almost pocket sized but decided on an awkward middle-ground. But anyway, the physical aspect of the book is awesome. Like when I first got a good look at it and was sliding my hands all over it [don’t judge me] I was like ‘OooooooOOooooo’

But, onto the story. I actually had no idea what I was going to be getting into when I got this book. Was this for adults? Was this YA? Was this a children’s book?

The answer is YA, I’d say. It has some adult themes but nothing a teenager couldn’t handle. But the writing style is very YA, and very short, and blunt.

Sometimes distractingly short and blunt. I don’t know if the author just has this style or if they were on a time restriction but there were many parts that were like:

‘Don’t go!’ The Queen said, sobbing. [two more sentences about her being sad]
‘But I must, there is war!’ said the King. [two more sentences about the King having kingly duties]
The Queen cried. [Described in two sentences]
The King left.

And that’s how it is. Which sort of adds more to the ‘YA feel’ of this book. I guess kids just have limited attention spans.

ANYWAY.

Without giving too much away on ‘The Queen’s’ [she is also not given any real name in this book either] new origin story, her obsession with her own vanity came from constant abuse as a child being called hideous and ugly by her resentful father after her mother died, who happened to be a renowned mirror-maker who would surround her with images of herself and destroyed her self esteem despite that she was a legitimately beautiful child/girl/woman.

Her life picked up when she met the King, and eventually became his Queen after her father died. She used to apparently be very happy, and also very much loved the King’s daughter from his first wife/Queen – Snow White. The first half of the book is a set up of how happy of a family they were. Snow loved her stepmother, and the Queen loved her.

A wedding gift from the King was a magical mirror [that he didn’t know was actually magical, let alone cursed af] and that the Queen actually knows the magical person in said mirror. Then tragedy struck and the story starts to explain the downward spiral into the Queen’s change from just ‘The Queen’ to ‘The Evil Queen’ and her eventual resentment and jealousy of the beauty of her step daughter.

There’s also quite a few random thrown in ‘new’ characters, some that make sense that they wouldn’t have appeared in the movie at all [since it is based on the original Disney animated version], but then there’s some characters that become so prominent in the book that it’s almost silly to think that apparently they were there during the movie but no one ever sees them. One such set of characters are essentially The Three Fates who are also set in this sort of ‘wicked witch’ theme that are key characters throughout the book. They’re actually the ones who get the ball rolling on everything that happens to The Queen. It just seemed so forcefully put in when you remember the movie this book is basing itself off of vs the actual Snow White story.

Also at one point The Queen reads Snow White the story of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent and I was kinda like ‘Oh Disney…’ and then it made me look up when SW supposedly happened because I know that Sleeping Beauty was the 14th Century -as proclaimed in the movie- [1400’s-1500’s btw] but apparently the Disney version of Snow White is guesstimated to be around¬†1500’s-1550’s. The more you know~~~

Ultimately, I can’t tell if I really liked the book or not. I went in not being a fan of the idea of building a sympathetic backstory for The Queen, and the author’s writing style just really turned me off. It was weird because at some parts the description and tellings were really good. And other times they were just too short/blunt and awful. And being as there’s already been 500 recent re-do’s of Snow White movies recently, I kinda hope Disney doesn’t go with this new version to be honest. After I finished the book I was just kinda like ‘Oh. Okayyyy?’

If you’re a Disney superfan, especially for the villains and don’t mind that they’re trying to give backstory as to why they’re evil – sure, this would probably be a good, quick read for you. But otherwise, meh.

 


 

I give Fairest of All 3/5 Poisoned Apples

[and that 3 is only because of the aesthetics of the cover <_<]

Rating:

“She imagined her heart as a broken mirror, its pieces jingling inside of her; a thought that made her feel entirely inhuman.”

 

 

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