Goodreads: Fairest of All
Series: Whatever After #1
Published: May 1, 2012
A fresh, modern spin on a classic fairy tale–from bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski!
Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall . . .
Once upon a time my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White’s fairy tale.
I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.
But hey — we’re heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn’t die, she won’t get to meet her prince. And then she won’t get her happy ending. Oops.
Now it’s up to us to:
– Avoid getting poisoned
– Sneak into a castle
– Fix Snow White’s story
And then, fingers crossed, find our way home
Whatever After: Fairest of All is a cute exploration of what could happen if Snow White didn’t eat her stepmother’s poisoned apple; it turns out, she might just miss her chance to meet her prince! Ten-year-old Abby and her little brother Jonah are not about to let that happen, however, so they embark on a quest to ensure Snow gets her happily ever after, after all.
The result is a romp of a tale that sprawls through different excursions, as Abby and Snow brainstorm various ways to put Snow’s story back on track. Do they reenact everything? Lure the prince? Go to the prince themselves? (And which prince are they trying to attract anyway?) The characters have a variety of fun adventures, and hilarity and danger both ensue, as Abby, Jonah, and Snow try various approaches—all while trying to dodge the still very determined evil queen.
Although the plot is light and a bit quirky, the voice is of the book stands in contrast. It may be due to an attempt by Mlynowski to give her protagonist a young voice, but Abby often just sounds petulant. She also routinely states the obvious and can be very repetitive. Here are few quotes from the beginning of the story, so you can get a feel for her voice yourself.
“Why is the mirror in our basement turning colors? Mirrors should not change colors. I do not like mirrors that change colors!”
“Um, why are there thousands of large trees in my basement. Wait. My basement does not have trees. I turn to Jonah. ‘We’re not in the basement!’”
Abby does have a personal character arc, as her adventures in the mirror give her a better perspective on what things matter in life, and on working to make the impossible possible. Further, she deserves kudos for exhibiting spunk in the face of danger and sticking close to her friends.
Jonah, the younger brother, is seven years old and a little more immediately endearing. He too has a penchant for repetition, but with more exuberance. Examples include: “Wake up, wake up, wake up!” and “Excuse us, excuse us, excuse us, excuse us, excuse you, EXCUSE US!” This is pretty believable for a little kid, although it can be just about as tiring to read as it can be to listen to in real life. (Ok, once in awhile it’s funny, too.) In the end, Johan is my favorite character due to his big heart, his loyalty, and his unfailing sense of adventure.
In spite of the annoying (in my opinion) dialogue interjections, the plot proceeds at a steady pace, and there is just enough mystery at the end of the book to encourage readers to continue with the series. Readers still have a lot to discover about the magic mirror and the relationship between our world and fairy tale worlds. Finally, there is a little hint that Abby and Jonah will be called on another adventure quite soon—and that they will be willing to answer the call!
Fairest of All will appeal to younger middle grade readers who enjoy fairy tales with spirited heroines. Great for fans of E. D. Baker or Diane Zahler.