I have a bit of a love hate relationship with this book. I mostly hate it because it pretty much took the place of Winter and delayed the release of the final book of the Lunar Chronicles by ten months or so. And seeing as I was spoiled with an ARC of Cress, it’s been well over a year since I read a new Meyer book and I desperately need Winter in my hands. Like, now. Like, yesterday. >.>
To be fair, I’m sure it’s not Fairest’s fault that Winter was pushed back. But seeing as it was published first, it’s easy to blame it and so that’s where I shall direct my anger, haha. Despite all my preconceived notions about the book though, I picked Fairest up and inhaled it in, like, two hours. Even though it’s only 220 pages long, it still has the depth and flair of the Meyer books I’ve come to love. And while it doesn’t do much to progress the story of the first three novels, this book gives us great insight on how the antagonist, the evil Lunar Queen Levana, came to be the villain we know.
In this short novel, we get to see Levana as a young woman growing up under the rule of her older sister, Channary. Even at the tender age of fifteen, she’s incredibly smart and perceptive. In fact, at the beginning of the book, she actually seems like a normal teenager. She's dealing with anger and jealousy concerning her sister as well as a secret crush on one of the castle guards, Sir Evret. Levana longs to have him, but there’s only one small problem – his very pregnant wife, Solstice.
When Evret’s wife dies during childbirth, Levana sees it as fate. She “seduces” Evret with her Lunar magic and, after meddling with his mind and cornering him into marriage, Levana quickly realizes that love isn’t exactly what she thought it was. She longs to be everything that Evret wants, but no matter how much she tries, she’ll never compare to the wife that he lost. And so, she continues to use her powers against him, confident that he will eventually grow to love her. Even his daughter, Winter, cries every time she holds her.
Channary ends up having a child of her own, a little girl named Selene, who – much to Levana’s chagrin – is the successor to the Lunar throne. Levana is convinced that her sister is ruining their planet, so, when Levana ends up as temporary queen after Channary dies, she finally gets her chance to rule the country she loves so dearly. And the only thing keeping her from keeping the position she loves so dearly is a small child - her niece. Convinced that no one could be a better queen than herself, Levana forms an evil plan to make sure that she will remain on the throne.
What I found particularly satisfying about this book was how relatable Levana was at the beginning of the story. I never thought I would find someone I hate as much as Levana relatable. At the beginning of the book, I feel for her, with how she’s used and abused by her sister as well as how she’s hopelessly in love with someone who could never love her. As the book progressed, the reader can easily see how she slowly descended into madness and the reasons, however fallible, she took to get the things she desired most. In fact, after having read this book, I feel as if I understand Levana on an entirely different level. That certainly doesn’t mean I like her, but I certainly understand the reasons and circumstances that caused her to be the person she is. It was also interesting to see Winter and Selene involved in the book; I felt as if I had a greater understanding of their early history and family by reading this little addition to the series.
In my book, it takes a great author to take a character that’s so profoundly unloved by readers and turn her into something resembling a human being. Kudos, Ms. Meyer!
And can we talk about the first three chapters of Winter that are in the back of the book? Squee! I’m even more excited to read it now! So, until November, I guess this book did a great job of tiding me over. For that, I give it 5/5.