Monday, August 29, 2016

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, 2006

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In the kingdom of Ayortha, who is the fairest of them all? Certainly not Aza. She is thoroughly convinced that she is ugly. What she may lack in looks, though, she makes up for with a kind heart, and with something no one else has-a magical voice. Her vocal talents captivate all who hear them, and in Ontio Castle they attract the attention of a handsome prince - and a dangerous new queen. In this masterful novel filled with humour, adventure, romance, and song, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine invites you to join Aza as she discovers how exquisite she truly is.
(326 pages)

When I was younger, I absolutely adored Fairest. I liked it even more than I did Ella Enchanted, its more successful older sister, and I read it several times out of sheer love of the story.

Now that I'm older, I'm sad to see that this is yet another book that doesn't captivate me the way it used to. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's still good. I love the way Aza ruminates on beauty, inside and out. The juxtaposition of Aza and Ivi (both beautiful, but in different ways) is very striking, and I still love watching Aza interact with the gnome ZhamM, who is the mentor and friend that I wish every protagonist had. But the romance with Ijori, while sweet, is kind of cloying and almost rushed to me now (I guess because they don't have as many scenes together as I would have liked).

Really, I think now that I'm older I mainly just want the entire book to be longer. I want to delve further into the intricacies of court; I want a closer look at Aza's feelings of inadequacy and hideousness; I want a more subtle, beautiful relationship between Aza and Ijori that grows up over time; I want all this, plus more time with the fascinating and kind gnomes. I could happily have spent an entire book just in their underground home, exploring the lifestyle and political system that's so different from our own.

It's still a really good book, though, and I highly recommend it to any and all. If you liked Ella Enchanted, then you need to read Fairest; if you haven't read either book, then you definitely need to read both of them as soon as possible!

Which book do you like better, Ella Enchanted or Fairest? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. I really loved Fairest. The part about the dwarfs really stands out in my mind - when she finds everything's the same but she's changed so much... Ah well, don't want to spoil things for anyone ;) Great review - making me feel so nostalgic.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nicole! I know, even looking at the cover of Fairest makes me feel so nostalgic. I absolutely adored Gail Carson Levine when I was younger!

  2. I thought for sure I had read this one, since I've read almost everything she's written, but the synopsis doesn't sound at all familiar. Either I've completely forgotten everything about it, or I need to read this one!

    1. Either way you should read it! Fairest is a really great book, once of my favorites by Gail Carson Levine.


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