Release Date: August 6, 2013
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Fantasy-Fairy Tale
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
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.
And this, ladies, is one of the many reasons why we should't hand any man our happiness.
This Rapunzel remake by Carolyn Turgeon is possibly the most depressing book I've read in a long time. THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL has a very interesting premise, weaving classic fairy tales like Rapunzel and Snow White together. This alone made me want to read the book because you have to admit, this twist to a worn-out tale is an attention grabber and CTurgeon didn't disappoint.
Plot-wise, CTurgeon didn't deviate too much from the original Rapunzel and Snow White tales. Both women more or less kept close to their true tale. The tone of the story is somber for the most part with a little bit of magic thrown here and there. THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL focused on Rapunzel, her desperation for Prince Josef, the struggle to be accepted by a Kingdom who deems magic and its practitioners evil, her efforts to be a good stepmother to Snow White and the unrequited desire to bear Josef and heir. Rapunzel dealt with a lot of guilt, resentment and whiplash for things she did and cannot do. Her vanity is the result of her insecurities stemming from her inability to bear a child and Josef's countless infidelities. Snow White (I'm not a big fan of her to start with) was a good girl at first but eventually she turned out to be a teenage brat. Can't blame Rapunzel for asking for her heart.
CTurgeon threw some shocking surprises further making this remake interesting. My favorite part is Rapunzel's storyline, CTurgeon gave the "evil" stepmother redemption by taking the opportunity to making things right. So even if the tone of the story was leaning towards sad and depressing, I still loved THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL. CTurgeon kept the integrity of the original stories and the creative license she exercised was fantastic.
It was hatred made of light, of diamonds, shaped like an arrow moving from my heart to hers.