Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Aza, born in Ayortha, is left in the room of an inn, the Featherbed. The innkeepers welcome her as part of their family and treat her as a daughter. Aza is not pretty or petite, but she has a beautiful voice, which is important to Ayorthaians because they sing almost as much as they speak. Still, Aza longs to be beautiful. When she becomes the queen's new lady-in-waiting, she is forced to throw her voice and make it sound as if Queen Ivi has a beautiful singing voice. Aza calls what she does illusing.
After the king is wounded, Queen Ivi rules Ayortha with the help of a magic mirror. The people hate her. Meanwhile, the king's nephew, Prince Ijori, and Aza fall in love. When Aza finds Queen Ivi's mirror, a creature, Skulni, is in the mirror and influences Aza to drink a beauty potion. Before long, Aza and her illusing are blamed for all the problems in the land. She is put in prison. Aza escapes her prison and reaches the caves of the gnomes, where she receives sanctuary. She learns she is part gnome.
When Aza eats a poisonous apple, she is transported into Skulni's mirror, and she must outwit Skulni by breaking the mirror from the inside. Healed, she finds that Prince Ijori still loves her. They return to the castle, where the king has recovered. The king knows that he can't have his wife in power again, so he resigns his position. Prince Ijori marries Aza, and they rule Ayortha with wisdom and song.
Other Belief Systems
This society comprises singers, gnomes, ogres, fairies, magic mirrors, spells and potions. Magic is considered a normal part of life. Books of spells and potions are in the library. The problems of Queen Ivi and Aza begin with their desires to be more beautiful, then the problems are escalated by Skulni's trickery in the magic mirror and by beauty potions and spells. Ayorthaians also believe in the power of singing. Singing brings strength and unity and aids in healing.
When Aza escapes from the dungeon, she must force a bolt open, which causes her to bleed. Ogres eat Ayorthaians. Aza is poisoned and almost dies.
Prince Ijori and Aza kiss passionately. They walk in the dark together at the castle and later are alone in a ravine all night, but do not engage in sex. They hold hands as they sleep next to each other.
Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.
You can request a review of a title you can't find at email@example.com.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.