Publisher/Date published: Touchstone, August 6th 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository
Goodreads summary: 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.
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Guys, I love fairytale retellings. I love fairytales and all these retellings are just adding that extra bit of depth to them that I so, SO love! And The Fairest of Them All was definitely a lot darker than the original tale!
I love that Carolyn Turgeon is combining two of my favourite fairytales: Snow White and Rapunzel. And seriously, we're told in the summary that Rapunzel turns into Snow White's evil stepmother, but really, I was so rooting for that girl! She had an unconventional upbringing by Mathena Gothel and actually had amazing abilities with also a really cool link to her hair. Mathena teaches her basic herbal treatments and some spells, women mainly visit them looking for a cure to their heartache.
Rapunzel mainly grows up surrounded by women and it pretty naive in spite of her hearing about other women's heartache over men and I could see how she would get carried away when she met the prince. I mean, sure, it all progresses VERY quickly, they forget to actually forge a relationship before falling into bed together. And of course, things can't end well and the prince ends up leaving to marry another girl, leaving Rapunzel heartbroken.
This experience and some of the awful things that happen to her after really shape the rest of Rapunzel's life. And I can understand how she could change into a less kind person. She has to be to get what she wants and she's been hurt herself. The mirror really does urge the jealousy on and Rapunzel gets caught up in it.
And then we have Snow White. Who I LOVED when she first enters the scene as a little girl, but then she changes as well and it's easy to see how Rapunzel, who I felt really wanted to love her, would develop a grudge against her. It's easy to see how things spiral out of control from there and it's a bit scary as well, because it makes the traditional evil queen seem so human.
I love how everything unfolds at the end, I love the dark twists to this beloved fairytales and I love how Carolyn Turgeon made it all come together and that ending! Seriously! That still kinda broke my heart, though it's also filled with a little hope for the future. This is definitely recommended, though keep in mind there is some very mature content.
My rating: 4 stars
Made me crave: rhubarb
Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels: Rain Village (2006), Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story (2009), Mermaid (2011), which is being developed for film by Sony Pictures, and The Next Full Moon (2012), her first and only book for middle-grade readers. Her latest novel, The Fairest of Them All, comes out in August 2013 from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster and is about Rapunzel growing up to be Snow White's stepmother. She lives in Pennsylvania and New York and teaches fiction writing at the University of Alaska at Anchorage's Low-Residency MFA program. She's currently at work on a new novel about Dante's Beatrice, set in thirteenth-century Florence.
Visit Carolyn's website at http://carolynturgeon.com.
Visit Carolyn's mermaid blog at http://iamamermaid.com/
Follow Carolyn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/carolynturgeon
Follow Carolyn on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolynturgeonbooks
(1) Signed paperback of The Fairest Of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon.
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So, Question of the Day:
What is your favourite fairytale? Would you like a retelling of it?