Published: January 27th 2015 by Pan Macmillan AU
Format: Paperback, 222 pages
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Science Fiction
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Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
I never thought I’d sympathise with Levana. She’s been this amorphous blob of evil in The Lunar Chronicles for three books, and although I never doubted that her past would make an interesting story, I certainly didn’t think it would make me understand her.
People have either forgotten or glorified the past in these books, and getting the events first hand from Levana changed my perceptions on many things. For example, everyone thinks of Levana as a horrible person who killed Princess Selene for the throne, and something people even suggest she may have had a hand in killing her sister, Queen Channary. But what no one knows is what Channary was really like, how she treated Levana, and how she really died. The same thing is true of Selene – the true story is even more sad and tragic than the rumours made it out to be.
Levana has never had love in her life, but she’s pursued her own idea of love from a very young age. Her parents ignored her, her sister hated her, and she never had any friends at court. She fell in love with a palace guard when she was young, and her obsession with him has shaped much of her life. She’s done some terrible things in the name of love, and it was heartbreaking to watch her make mistake after mistake and completely shatter her life and the lives of the people who could have helped her. And so we get to find out about Winter, who her parents were and how she came to be Levana’s step-daughter.
Although at just over 200 pages Fairest is very short, it explores the essence of who the villain from The Lunar Chronicles is very well. I understand the Lunar side of things a lot more now, and in particular, feel bad that all of Levana’s evil plans aren’t really that evil. She has the best interests of Lunar and its people at heart, it’s just her way of going about it that’s flawed. The writing is just as beautiful and haunting as it is in the full-length novels, and evokes life on Lunar excellently.
Fairest has whet my appetite for Winter, the next and last book in The Lunar Chronicles. I’ve really enjoyed it, and highly recommend it to readers who already love the world that Meyer has created. Although it doesn’t have any specific spoilers for the main series, I think the experience of reading Fairest would be richer and more fulfilling after reading Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress.