Thursday, 28 November 2013

Review: The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon

The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon

Publication Date: August 6th, 2013
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 4/5
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Living in an enchanted forest, Rapunzel spends her days tending a mystical garden with her adoptive mother, Mathena. A witch, Mathena was banished from court because of her magic powers, though the women from the kingdom still seek her advice and herbal remedies. She waits, biding her time to exact revenge against those who betrayed her.

One day Rapunzel's beautiful voice and long golden locks captivate a young prince hunting in the forest nearby. Overcome, he climbs her hair up to her chamber and they fall into each other's arms. But their afternoon of passion is fleeting and the prince must return to his kingdom, as he is betrothed to another.

Now king, he marries his intended to bring peace to his kingdom. They have a stunning daughter named Snow White. Yet the king is haunted by his memories of Rapunzel and after the mysterious death of his wife, realizes he is free to marry the women he never stopped longing for. In hopes of also replacing the mother of his beloved daughter, the king makes Rapunzel his queen.

But when Mathena's wedding gift of an ancient mirror begins speaking to her, Rapunzel falls under its evil spell and the king begins to realize that Rapunzel is not the beautiful, kind women he dreamed of. 

So I definitely like me some fairy tale re-tellings. I generally like all fairy tales really. I'm a huge Disney geek, so of course I love their happier takes with the happily ever after. But I do know how dark the originals tend to be. And The Fairest of Them All sounded like it had quite a unique twist on Snow White's and Rapunzel's tales. In fact Rapunzel turns out be Snow White's stepmother. And I'm sure you're all familiar with how it ends for Snow Whites stepmother in the original. So my interests were piqued when I found out about this book. How can both Snow White and Rapunzel come out with that happily ever after?

This book is essentially Rapunzel's story. It's told from her POV over the span of quite a few years. From her time in the tower to her time as stepmother to Snow White.
The story itself is quite dark but whimsical. Rapunzel lives in the tower with her adoptive mother. She's not being kept captive there. But you know pretty much right away that her mother is hiding a deep secret. They both possess magic, the mother more so than Rapunzel. So that's one of the ways they make their living.
Than Rapunzel meets and falls in love with the prince. And thus really starts the story. The prince disappears back to the castle leaving Rapunzel with child. Unfortunately she doesn't make it to term and the child is born disfigured. So for the following years Rapunzel pines for her dead child and lost love. Until one day the prince shows up for Rapunzel again and she's off to the castle to become his wife and step-mother to Snow White. As a parting gift her mother gives her a magical mirror. Yes, that magical mirror.

Upon meeting Snow White she is exactly the Snow White we know from all other versions before. Pale skin, red lips, black hair. Beautiful inside and out. She's a little hesitant with Rapunzel but eventually they become friends.
Rapunzel right away starts using the mirror. Asking that key question to the story "who is the fairest of them all?" As the years go on she turns from the lovable queen to a vain and awful person. The exact persona of the evil step-mother. Eventually her world starts to crumble around her.

Turgeon takes a lot from the original fairy tales. So if you are familiar with them(even the Disney ones) this might excite you. But what I found she did really well is add in some really dark and twisted twists. One of them even had my mouth hanging open with some shock and disgust.
I also really enjoyed her writing. I think it fits perfectly with fairy tales in that it's pretty lyrical and whimsical itself.

After thoroughly enjoying my first Turgeon book I'll definitely be picking up her other books in the near future. Like mentioned before, I love fairy tales and fairy tale re-tellings and I'm excited to see what kind of twists she's put into her other books.

Happy reading!


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