Fairest of All by Serena Valentino

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RATING: 4/5

BLURB: “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”

REVIEW: Having previously read Valentino’s novel ‘The Beast Within’, I was really looking forward to getting my teeth into ‘Fairest of All’, and it certainly did not disappoint – in fact, I enjoyed this novel even more! It tells the story of the daughter of a mirror-maker. Bullied and tormented by her father, she is both amazed and delighted when the King of their realm begins to pay attention to her and, after her father’s death, asks her to marry him and become his Queen. The new Queen, dazzlingly beautiful, is thrilled by this change in her life; she falls deeply in love with her new husband and also with his precious daughter, Snow White, whom she treats as her own child. The three form a new family, and with her dear friend Verona by her side the Queen feels as though nothing can go wrong – despite her husband’s frequent war campaigns and the arrival of his three very peculiar cousins, three strange sisters who seem determined to frighten Snow White and encourage the Queen to cruelty through the use of a gift they provide her with; a magic mirror that contains the face and soul of her dead father. Things begin to take a turn for the worse, however, when the King dies in battle. Despite Snow White needing her more than ever, the Queen sinks into grief, neglecting her new little daughter and becoming more and more dependent on her magic mirror. As she begins to obsess over remaining the fairest in the land, her wild fixation on her own beauty leads her to turn against not only the budding Snow White, but also Verona, who is beginning to eclipse her in beauty. With the encouragement to the three sisters, this leads us to the events of the story that we know and love from the Disney film ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’; the Queen sends her huntsman to kill Snow White but, when he fails and Snow White runs away, she transforms herself into an old crone and kills Snow White herself with a poisoned apple. In this version of events, when running away from the Dwarves the Queen knows what will lead to her end, and sacrifices herself in falling from the cliff, knowing that Snow White will be revived by her Prince and find happiness with him. I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait for the UK release of ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ next month, as Ursula is my favourite Disney Villain!

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