Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: The Fairest Of Them All

The Fairest of Them AllAuthor: Carolyn Turgeon
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Touchstone

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.

While I worked, I imagined him at the ball, watching for me, waiting for me. I touched my dress, feeling for the sachet underneath, filled with the earth and herbs that connected me to him. I kept him around my neck. I did not want to take any chances.

Then there he was, this beautiful richly dressed man at my door, so close I could count his eyelashes, and I understood for the first time what all those spells and salves and magic teas and baths and candles were for.

She turned to me. “Someday, Rapunzel, you will have the life you long for. But not yet.”

She thought she could keep me away from him by locking me in a tower. But I could bring him to me. He was already tied to me, through magic, through the earth, and now I would make him return.

A fairytale retelling that combines both Rapunzel and Snow White? Count me in! I always have been and always will be a fan of fairytale retellings. Fairytales are always so magical and have just the right amount of romance, mischief, and of course, magic! We first see Rapunzel, who falls in love with a handsome young prince and has one extremely passionate night with him. He, however, is already promised to another woman and his wedding is only days away. Rapunzel is heartbroken to find this out, and even more heartbroken when she finds out he and his new wife have welcomed a new princess into the world, Snow White. Shortly after his wife dies, he takes Rapunzel for a wife and she is invited to live in the castle amongst all the town dwellers that call her a “witch.” Is Rapunzel cut out for the life of a royal? Will she ever be in the favor of the people?

This book does not have a lot of major action, but this does not mean that it isn’t worth reading. The writing style is beautiful and the words just flow right off the page. I was so caught up in Rapunzel’s world that I completely forgot that not a lot of action was going on. This was not how I expected to see Rapunzel. She was somewhat cruel at times and deceitful, but then again she is supposed to be the Evil Queen in this book. Most of the major action revolves around her, especially towards the beginning of the book. It was very easy to picture Rapunzel’s world in my mind.

Turgeon did a fantastic job of weaving together two well-known fairy tales without leaving out any important parts of either one of them. Rapunzel grew on me by the end of the story, but I did not care much for Snow White towards the end of the book. I also liked the portrayal of Mathena, or Gothel, the witch that took Rapunzel from her parents at a very young age. Gothel was not portrayed as some wicked old hag in this book, as she usually is. I loved seeing her softer side. She seemed to really care for Rapunzel and her well-being.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Touchstone in exchange for my honest review***

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