I just reread this book. The first read kept me up until nearly midnight, but it was a long time ago… Since Gail Carson Levine is coming to my area, I needed to reread it.

Aza is ugly. There’s no other way to put it. She has large shoulders, called “oafish” by one costumer, and she’s outgrowing all her sisters. Someone left Aza in her parent’s bed & breakfast when she was a baby in a blanket with gold thread, so they don’t her real parents.

Aza learns slowly to accept her ugliness. “Don’t wait on the guests”, “Stay in the Kitchen”, and “Please, just clean the rooms!” are thrown at her every day. The one reward after humiliating days is her beautiful singing voice. In Ayortha, singing is a daily activity. Aza finds that she has a talent called illusing, singing or speaking without opening her mouth.

One day, a rich and socialite guest comes to the inn. Her companion Dame Olga gets sick and she needs someone to accompany her to the castle for the King’s wedding. Aza is the obvious pick, since she is the ugliest of the sisters. Aza journeys to the capital and meets amazingly beautiful queen.

The time for the Sing comes close, and the Queen blackmails Aza to sing for her. The King is injured, and the Queen tightens her grip on Aza and Ayortha. There’s nothing Aza can do- betray her Queen or herself? And then there’s the kind Prince Ijori…

Fairest is my second favorite book by Levine. I’m screaming at Aza, “Betray her! Save yourself!” but then I start to think. No matter how much I have thought about her predicament, I can’t decide what I would have done. Fairest is for a slightly older crowd than Ella Enchanted, but I think younger readers could definitely read it.

Now, I like this cover much more than Ever‘s cover or the new fangled Ella Enchanted cover. This is actually how I imagined Aza would look. I also enjoyed the mirror on the cover, since it plays a large part later in the book. I can’t give too much away about the mirror, because I don’t want to spoil the end.

Fairest is a retelling of Snow White. The connections are obvious, but not overbearing at all. The main difference is that in the fairy tale, Snow White is beautiful. Aza is beautiful, but just in a different way.

I loved the Queen. Her character intrigued me mainly for the fact that she isn’t a typical villain. She’s flawed, but anyone could be in her position. The end is just fantastic! I’ve got to get my lips sewn up because they’re wanting to start spurting spoilers. So, until the next review.

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