When I received Fairest to review, I hesitated. Fairest is a prequel to the three books in the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlett and Cress) which were already on my personal ‘to buy’ list. Even though the events of Fairest take place prior to the books I haven’t a read, a prequel’s target audience is those who’ve read and loved the series. And the dedication agreed. This book is for the readers. The Lunartics. The fans. I didn’t want to diminish my series reading experience.
So I did the “dip a toe in the water” test. One sentence was all it took. It won’t be a spoiler to quote the sentence:
She was lying on a burning pyre, hot coals beneath her back.
I challenge any reader not to at least complete the page. By page-end I cared about Levana’s story. I read on until the book was finished in just two reading sessions. I’m now twice as eager to read the series.
Levana is the younger sister, forever destined to live in the shadow of Channary, who will be queen. Channary is beautiful but Levana is horribly disfigured by a childhood accident. She lives her life behind a ‘glamour’, a magically created false appearance.
The ‘glamour’ tempts Levana, and she finds she can exploit it to satisfy her heart’s desire. More than anything , she wants to be loved. When Channary unexpectedly dies and Levana becomes regent for baby Serene, Levana is determined to be a good queen and to rule Lunar well.
But behind the ‘glamour’ is a damaged soul who ultimately will not let any man, woman or child stand in her way.
The Lunar Chronicles is a modern fairy tale with cleverly twisted shades of familiar characters and plotlines. Levana is wicked stepmother, evil queen and royal witch. Like Snow White’s stepmother queen, mirrors cause her to fly into a rage when they always show her true appearance.
Fairest is a prequel not only to the Lunar Chronicles but the fully-formed evil queen of so many fairy tales. It begins beyond the wickedness to explore where the evil came from and what was there before that. Is evil born or made? I found myself questioning my judgement, unable to determine how I felt about Lavana.
How wonderful is that?
Reviewed by Sandy Fussell
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia
Publication Date: $16.99 RRP