by Gail Carson Levine
Seems like everyone is rewriting fairy tales these days, but Levine’s Fairest has to be one of the best out there.
Fairest gives us an ugly Snow White. Her name is Aza, and sure enough, she’s white as snow and all that, but it just doesn’t work for her. She’s no dainty princess–in fact, she’s a plus-size peasant. She does have a beautiful voice which in the fantasy kingdom of singers counts for something. When she’s suddenly pulled into court, Aza is forced to use her voice and her wits to survive the drastic whims of a beautiful but nasally queen.
Any re-telling of Snow White has to hit certain notes: you know the magic mirror, a jealous queen, a sleeping death, and a prince—and Fairest doesn’t disappoint. But by far the best parts of the book are the moments it really diverges from the traditional fairy tale–and it takes the Snow White theme of beauty and vanity to a whole other level. This is what makes Fairest a very worthwhile read.
Why read another re-told fairy tale?
It may be a trend now but it’s not new: re-telling fairy tales is as old as the stories themselves. They were first oral stories that people told again and again, adding their own bits to them. And for good or bad, fairy tales such as Snow White and Cinderella, still seem to be relevant in some way. Perhaps their themes are as central and primal as Greek myths. What I really like seeing now are the many and creative ways authors are subverting the sexist and racist elements in many of these tales and Fairest certainly does that.
Here are a few of the best re-tellings of fairy tales I’ve read so far:
For more of my excellent book recommendations see My Big List.
You might also like my book, The First. It’s not a fairy tale but it’s got some magical people in it that you’ve never seen before.