Incredibly Thoughtful | Review of ‘Fairest of All’ (Villains #1)

By Cynthia Ayala

Fairest of All by Serena Valentino
Disney Press
Image Credit: Goodreads

“The tale of the young princess and her evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen, is widely known. Despite a few variations from telling to telling, the story remains the same—the Queen was jealous of the girl’s beauty, and this jealousy culminated in the Queen’s attempt on the sweet, naive girl’s life. The theories about exactly what caused the Queen’s obsessive vanity and jealous rage are too numerous to catalog. This book recounts a version of the story that has remained untold until now. It is a tragic tale of love and loss, and it contains a bit of magic. It is a tale of the Wicked Queen…” —Goodreads

Published August 18, 2009, by Disney Press, Fairest of All is the first in the Disney Villains series by Serena Valentino is a young adult fantasy that brings to life and pain of Snow White’s Wicked Queen.

By far the best in the series, so far. It is indeed better than The Beast Within and Poor Unfortunate Soul because it captures much heart in the novel and it focuses on the Queen’s journey to the villain we all know from Disney’s animated feature, Snow White. What makes the novel incredible is the idea behind making the Queen so villainous. The novel also features the three witches from the other novels are more integral in this novel, more present, more malevolent and less cackling. Unlike the other books in the series where the story shifts to their focus and takes away from the overall journey of the novel and characters, this novel puts them in the back without losing them and without taking away the center of the story.

The Queen started as such a sweet and meek character, but through her hardships and the never-ending verbal abuse of her father, she is twisted. Of course, the witches have a hand in all this with their manipulations of the Magic Mirror. Her father may have made it, but he gave up something when he did: his soul and humanity. It’s a compelling novel to see the ramifications of abuse like his, how it can tarnish such a kind soul and warp it into something malevolent.

There’s so much depth to the novel that goes from and expands upon the fears of the Queen and the losses she encounters, making her heartache burn her soul, sending reverberates throughout the book. She loses who she was in her quest for her fathers’ approval. Moreover, she also losses that connection she had to Snow White. It’s amazing to see the connection between the two, the sweet loving connection, and to watch as it begins to unfold and warp is something so breathtaking. It happens so slowly, highlighting the devotion of Valentino herself. It’s meticulously written, drawing the reader in with every breath offering up fans of Disney a new insight into who the Queen was before she was the Queen.

Origin stories are often so interesting, but there are times when some lose the reader and lose the focus of the story, especially if there is more going on within the story’s universe and lore. Valentino stays focused on the story, she grabs the reader, giving them a little bit of the established lore while also allowing herself to expand the story to give readers a remarkable book. It’s sweet, it’s bitter, and in the end, it’s something more than just an origin story. It’s a thoughtful piece of work that has the emotion needed to make this truly stand out. (★★★★☆ | A)

Product Details:

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2009

Page count: 250pp

Age Range: 10 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-4231-0629-6

Publisher: Disney Press

List Price:  $15.99

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