Mirrors, Potions, and Stepmothers REVIEWING Fairest Of All

Welcome back to The Real World According To Sam! Today is Magic Monday, so I'm back at my old antics...talking about Disney books again. 

Fairest Of All 

Author: Serena Valentino
Genre: YA Fantasy
Year: 2009

Fairest of All


The tale of the young princess and her evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen, is widely know. 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. 

Another tale far less often spoken of is the one that explains what caused the Queen to become so contemptuously vile. Still, some have attempted to guess at the reason. Perhaps the Queen's true nature was that of a wicked hag and her beautiful, regal appearance a disguise used to fool the King. Others claim that the Queen might have hated the girl for her resemblance to the King's first wife. Mostly, the Queen is painted as a morally abhorrent woman who never loved another being during the course of her miserable life. 

In fact, the theories about exactly what cause 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...


I have been wanting to read this series for a while. This book is the very first in the Villains series by Serena Valentino, which retells the stories of the ever popular Disney villains. This one focuses on the Wicked Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I really enjoy fairytale retellings and this is one that is definitely interesting. 

This is actually my second time reading this book, but I didn't remember it very well the first time. A new book in the series came out this year and it reminded me that I should see about trying to go through it again. I remembered some aspects, but not the full story. Already that makes it come down a little bit. I remembered just enough to know that I didn't dislike it. 

The story begins with the Queen and her old life. The book never gives her an actual name, she is only ever referred to as the Queen. Her mother passed away a long time ago, so she lived with her father, who was emotionally abusive towards her. Her father was a mirror maker and his craftsmanship was well-known. One day, the King of the kingdom visits the mirror maker and he happens to see the Queen. The two eventually marry and that's how the Queen becomes the Queen. That is also how she becomes Snow White's stepmother. Snow White's mother had passed away while Snow White was very young and her stepmother entered her life while she was still young. At first the Queen really loves Snow White and is a very caring, motherly figure towards her. Then one day, the Queen receives a gift...a certain magic mirror with darker secrets than anyone knows. She also has run-ins and conflicts with a trio of witches who are cousins of the King. Over time and many hardships, the Queen falls farther and farther into darkness and evil, until she becomes the villain we know her to be. 

The book is really interesting and things fall very well into place. The gradual descent towards evil and the self-destruction that occurs is crazy. At times, you're really hoping that she won't fully fall into it, but naturally, there would be no story if she didn't. I think this book was done very well and it provides a lot of insight into the kind of life that Snow White had. It develops not just the Queen, but also Snow White. We see why she is the way she is and how her childhood and circumstances led her to be kind hearted and very afraid at times, to the point of potential naivety. This book adds a lot of background information to a beloved story. It shows what life was like before Snow White was sent into the woods to be killed by the Huntsman. It shows what the kingdom is like, which the film never does. We see what life is like in the castle. This book does a lot to expand upon the world and characters of the film and I think fans of it, and particularly of the villains, will find a lot to enjoy here. It fleshes out so much. 

Overall, this is a fun retelling and it is much less dark in some ways than the Aladdin one that I reviewed a few months ago. It adds to the story, changes the viewpoint, and tell a whole new story while staying true to the original. I give Fairest Of All a Lone Star rating of ✯✯. I think Disney fans will enjoy this one, as well as readers who enjoy fairytales with a twist. If you ever felt like the Queen wasn't a very compelling character (particularly due to it being an older film with a different storytelling standard), then this book may give you a more full story to enjoy. I am looking forward to seeing what Serena Valentino does with the stories of the other villains on the slate.

This concludes another review here at The Real World According To Sam, where I bring the books straight to your screen and even provide my own two cents about them. See you at the next review!