Monday, September 12, 2016

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen (Villain Tales #1)

Release Date: August 18, 2009
Author: Serena Valentino
Publisher: Disney Press
Length: 250 pages
Source: Purchased Book

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.

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…



Protagonist: With this being a story about how the queen in Snow White becomes the deplorable envious woman she is, it's no surprise that nearly all of this book focuses on that queen. One of my biggest problems with this book is that the Queen is never given a proper name, only being called "the Queen." Now I know she doesn't have a name that's officially canonical, but if the author did, or was allowed to, give her a name it would have added a sense of realness to the story since everyone from her husband, her stepdaughter, to the friend she viewed as a sister, called her anything but a given name and that kind of bothered me quite a bit. As to her characterization, by the end of the book I understand why she's as horrible as she is, I can even see how the catalyst that drove her into her jealousy did so, but considering how sweet and loving she was for most of this book it's really hard to fit that with the character we know from the movie and the person she is by the end of this story.

World-Building: Speaking of not being able to fit two pieces together, the book and the movie were really hard for me to connect with so much of this story. There are only two major characters in this book that are also in the movie, the Queen and Snow White, however for most of the movie the Queen is a kind soul who only seeks love in her life and Snow is a small child holding no real personality traits other than being sweet and innocent. That being said for so much of this book it felt as though this could easily be another story completely if Snow White's name was changed and that story wouldn't bee all that compelling, unfortunately. The story was okay for the most part but other than learning more about the Queen's background and the circumstances that made her who she was, this world was never really fleshed out. The Queen had a husband who was constantly off defending his kingdom, but from who? Barely any of this book takes place somewhere not seen in the movie and I just wish I could feel this world more wholly. That there wasn't this vague sense of a kingdom that was barely held together by nostalgic memories of the movie.

Predictability: Another aspect of the story that I wasn't a huge fan of was how predictable it was. After a certain point, it was easy to see where the story was going and that was long before the aspects of the movie started to bleed into this story. That's not to say that there weren't some interesting surprises, there were connections to other classic Disney stories that I rather enjoyed and certain aspects of the movie were expanded upon to give it a much more realistic feeling, There was even a twist in the end that I did not see coming.

Ending: I'm not sure what to say about this ending that will give this review more substance. The ending of this book is basically the Queen's role in the Snow White movie. There are some embellishments here and there that go with this expanded story and universe, but it's not as if there was some magical twist that changed everything forever. There is an epilogue, and other than one surprising, although idealistic, twist it wasn't necessary. In fact, I almost feel as though the story would hold more power without that. Where that last official chapter ended wrapped up the moral of this story so well and really hit everything home rather well.


This book isn't a total waste of time, in fact, if you're someone who's a huge fan of the Disney Snow White movie you may even love this, but for me, it was too hard to connect with the movie and I'm sure that the author was restricted by Disney from expanding this world but I wish that she would have/could have given this world the depth and vitality that it needed.


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