My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What if Rapunzel was Snow White’s evil stepmother? From the author of Godmother and Mermaid, The Fairest of Them All explores what happens when fairy tale heroines grow up and don’t live happily ever after.
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 woman 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 woman he dreamed of.–(Description unceremoniously lifted from Goodreads for the purpose of my
Somehow, up to the point where I made the great discovery of this book, I had not heard of Carolyn Turgeon I am so happy that I found this book and had the opportunity to read it. If you have ever been so lost in a book that time and your usual responsibilities seem to matter not at all, then you know how I felt while reading this.
I love fairy tales (I’m such a little princess) but I have had good and bad experiences with modern fairy tale retelling. This author knows her stuff. The way she adapted the individual stories of Rapunzel and Snow White and made them suitable for an adult audience was pure genius. (When I say adult audience I don’t mean strong language or sexual material, there isn’t.)
From the beginning the writing is beautiful and has a smooth flow, allowing the reader to move forward without stopping and wondering which part of the original fairy tale you are looking at. I was impressed that though this was based on well known tales from the past, the author really managed to make it her own and it had a very original concept. The two main characters she chose worked well off of one another and the supporting characters all had a strong place in the story.
It was easy to care about Rapunzel as I watched her grow from an innocent child to a grown woman, learning and maturing as she went. The descriptions used to display the world around the characters and the gardens in particular far surpassed simply being adequate. Sometimes during this book I went backward in the story and reread something just because it was too beautiful to only appreciate a single time.
The relationship between Snow White and Rapunzel was dynamic and highlighted each character’s strengths and weaknesses nicely. I found it difficult to pick a favourite character in this book, although Mathena certainly had her merits.
The end of the book particularly fascinated me as you could see tendrils of the original fairy tale reaching into this book, but it was completely not what I was expecting. I will never look at the seven dwarves quite the same way again. Want to find out why? Read the book…
Here is an excellent quote from this book:
“But maybe I saw her,” I said. He smiled. “Maybe you’re half dreaming. Maybe it’s the hour when dreams are more real than rocks or rivers.”
Also, before I go…here are some other works by this author that I intend to check out soon. You know you want to join me in this. C’mon it will be fun!
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher in cooperation with Netgalley.