These books are based on well know, and well loved, Disney tales but are told from the point of view of the “villain”. They follow the Evil Queen from Snow White, The Beast from Beauty and the Beast and Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
I really enjoyed reading each book and loved the insight into the characters past it offered. Fairest of All illustrates incredibly well the stark contrast between the Queen’s personalities as the tale progresses. In the beginning she loves Snow White so dearly and would do anything in her power to ensure she is happy. While she continues to love Snow throughout the story she is so consumed by her craving for praise, which is only given in reference to her beauty, that we see her decent into madness. We see the paranoia grip her, twist her day to day life until she becomes the Evil Queen we all know.
I was worried The Best Within would be the Beauty and the Beast from his point of view – a quick read of the blurb told me this was not the case and instead we are treated to the story of how the Prince become the Beast. Overall the story was good and I really did dislike the character when he was still paying the role of the arrogant, self centred and vain Price. While you don’t spend much of the story with him and Belle you do see him grow as a character, lamenting his past self and opening himself up to “true love”. While we all know how his and Belle’s story played out, I enjoyed seeing the character arc from the beginning to the end of his curse.
Poor Unfortunate Soul is the darker of the three books, purely as Ursula has only one feeling driving her throughout the whole story; hate. She isn’t weighed down by feelings of love like the other two. We are shown Ursula’s backstory, how she became so bitter and twisted through her haunting past that put her on a path on vengeance so consuming so had no chance to deviate.
All three books have overlapping characters which shows the readers they are all set in the same universe. The Odd Sisters are by far the most important of the shared characters as they are integral to each plot and the development of each character. They hold the most intrigue for me, basically because they are crazy and I like how they just mess stuff up for everyone . I am happy to say they are getting their own book according to Serena Valentino’s website so I’ll definitely have to keep my eye for that.
One thing that bugged me, in Fairest of them All is that the Queen is constantly referred to as “The Queen” in the book and not by her name Grimhilde. To me this doesn’t make much sense as the story is literally about her. It’s hard to feel an emotional bond with a character without knowing their name, by just knowing them by their title. Hard, but evidently not impossible.
The same could be said for Beast Within, until just now I didn’t know the Beasts human name was Price Adam, he’s always referred to as Prince or Beast. But when he was a Price he was awfully arrogant so it’s not a huge surprise he would be called Prince all the time. And when he was his beastly self he was full of self loathing so would I guess he would have seen the name Beast as his punishment…even though he gets annoyed when people call him it. Oh I don’t know, I’m not a therapist…or a vet…
While each book references the well established tales we all know, this is done sparingly so the story stays fresh and new. Even though we know the final outcomes this does not detract from the overall reading experience. I would highly recommend the series to anyone who likes alternative versions of well know stories, or a lover of fairy tales. Each story is each to read, therefore easy to fall in to as you are surrounded by characters you have known since childhood. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series Mistress of All Evil which is being released later on this year and is about Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty was always a favourite of mine growing up, hopefully the book will do Maleficent justice in a way the 2014 film didn’t. Unpopular opinion I know.
I’d love to hear your opinions on the books, which was your favourite and why? Drop me a comment if you’d like.
Favourite quotes and passages from Fairest of All:
…flying through the darkness; the jewels of her dress sparkling, camouflaging her among the blanket of celestial lights that twinkled in the night sky.
The steaming water melted a frost that seemed to cover the Queen’s every bone.
Favourite quotes and passages from The Beast Within:
…as if the twisting thorny vines could wrap themselves round his racing heart and put an end to his anxiety.
To die, one must have first been alive.
Favourite quotes and passages from Poor Unfortunate Soul:
She left a path of destruction in her wake, black like oil, and putrefying
The sea witch’s cauldron, which she had been filling with ghastly ingredients collected for this purpose, was exploding with blue light that swirled around them like a menacing wall.