Author: Gail Carson Levine [also wrote Ella Enchanted]
Pages [hardcover]: 326
Favorite Characters: Ijori, Oochoo
I was born singing. Most babies cry. I sang an aria. Or so I believe. I have no one to tell me the truth of it. I was abandoned when I was a month old, left at the Featherbed Inn in the Ayorthaian villiage of Amonta. It was January 12th of the year of Thunder Songs.
The Fairy Lucinda has once again given a dreadful gift. THis time it’s a mysterious magical mirror. The gift is disastrous when it falls into the hands of Aza, who never looks in a mirror if she can help it. In the Kingdom of Ayortha, Aza is most definitely not the fairest of them all. Many spurn her. Many scoff at her. She keeps out of sight.
But in the land of singers, Aza has her own gift, one she’s come by without fairy intervention: a voice that can do almost anything, a voice that captivates all who hear it. In Ontio Castle, merry Prince Ijori is drawn to it, and vain Queen Ivi wants to use it for her own ends. Queen Ivi would do anything to remain the fairest in the land.
In this spellbinding tale filled with humor, adventure, romance, and song, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Leine invites you to join Aza as she discovers how exquisite she truly is.
I love, love, love Gail Carson Levine. I’ve read several of her books and have greatly enjoyed every single one, this novel included. Fairest tells the story of Aza, who was abandoned at birth and has the finest voice around. Unfortunately, the people of Ayortha highly value beauty-and Aza is anything but beautiful.
I love how Aza isn’t portrayed as a stereotypical gorgeous, perfect girl. She’s insecure, makes a fool out of herself, makes mistakes like any normal teen, and deals with self-image issues. One of the main themes of the book concerns how she comes to love her lack of beauty. I think there need to be more books like this out there, especially now that the world is so concerned with outward appearances.
Anyway, this book is set in the same world as Ella Enchanted. I loved all the little connections between the books. Ayortha is filled with ogres, gnomes, and fairies with unpleasant gifts. The magical elements of the story, which include spells and potions, are smoothly intertwined.
Fairest also has its references to the story of Snow White. I didn’t quite compare the two until about halfway through the story, and because this isn’t an exact retelling, the similarities aren’t obvious until you look for them.
Fairest is a great read that I highly recommend. I give it 5/5 stars.