By Cynthia Bujnicki
Everly Morrow has no idea that she is a princess of Enchantia, where magic exists, and fairy tales are more than tales, they are prophecies. Her prophecy is “Show White” forcing Everly to not only come to terms with the new magic she has found within herself, but also with the fact that she is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen. Except this is not a fate, Everly wants. Determined to change fate, Everly watches the fairy tale come to life before her, and with her power, dark and tempting, the question remains: will she become the villain she was born to be?
Some books stay with the reader long after they have finished them. The Evil Queen is one such novel. Showalter, once again, puts together a thoughtful story with invigorating characters that keep the reader hooked to the pages.
The Evil Queen is, as one might imagine, a fairy tale retelling. Of course, there is no shortage of those right now, so what makes this novel stand apart? Only everything. The structure of the story allows fairy tales to take the place of prophecies allowing for an exciting way to start the story and construct it. This is the type of story that analyzes other stories, and the characters are doing that. Anyone who has ever studied literature knows that there can be meaning found in anything, something a poison apple is just an apple, but it could also be interpreted in other ways. That is part of what makes this story so unique. The story’s ability to look in upon itself and analyze what is going on without making the story dull. It keeps the story engaging and makes it thought-provoking. It also adds another level of freshness to the story and keeps the reader guessing about the roles of the characters and their place in the story.
The aspect of roles is something that adds another level of depth to the story because it challenges just what it means to fit into a predetermined mold. Although here, Showalter is saying no to that, that no one must fit into the mold others have cast for them and can forge their destinies. That by itself is such a great message for readers, and it is something Everly does on every page as she fights her own “destiny.”
Now, as for the characters, any fan of Showalter knows that she loves to create strong female characters who are badass. Everly here is no exception. Everly is a great character, she is enigmatic, and her narrative is alive. Everly jumps off the pages. However, there is also a fragility here with her, which separates her from many of the other female characters Showalter has created. Everly is not fragile, but there is a softness to her that makes the reader gravitate and relate to her. She has flaws, and it is those flaws that make her a complex character. Everyone has a complex narrative, making the novel even more enjoyable.
The Evil Queen is a gripping and fresh new way to retell fairy tales as it steps away from the norms to create a captivating story packed with compelling character. (★★★★★)