Monday, June 16, 2008

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

by Gail Carson Levine

Another enjoyable fairy-tale adaptation from Levine, this time, Snow White with a twist. The twist is an interesting idea: Aza (the Snow White character) is not a beautiful girl, but a very ugly one by the standards of her people: her pale coloring and dark hair make her seem quite hideous. Yet she has a marvelous singing voice (which is prized by her people). Twist one.

Aza ends up in the king's castle by a string of lucky events, where she meets the woman engaged to the king—Ivi, a beautiful girl not much older than herself. Ivi takes a liking to her, and they become friends. (Twist two: Snow White is friends and a lady-in-waiting to the wicked stepmother.)

There is a prince, of course, and a magic mirror, and plenty of smallish men (though they are gnomes in this story and not dwarves), and even a poisoned apple, but the story is very unique in its ideas and adaptation.

I can't say that I liked it a great deal, though. It was a bit heavy-handed and moralistic to me (the point that beauty doesn't matter as much as we think, and that there is more than one way to be beautiful is hammered in again and again without much subtlety), and the ending a bit...well, disappointing. It's been awhile since I read it now, so I can't even remember it well enough to be able to describe what disappointed me without giving away the I'll just leave it at that, "disappointing."

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