Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Audiobook Length: 6 hours 32 minutes
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
Fairest is the story between Cress and the final novel, Winter, in the Lunar Chronicles series where the reader gets an insight into the main villain, Queen Levanna Blackburn. As each novel in the series provides a retelling of a fairy tale, this one does its own take on Snow White. Throughout the main series, the reader is familiar with her glamour, but this story reveals a little more about her scars and disfigurement beneath the veil. The reader gets a little more information about the death of her family, her mother, Queen Jannali, and her father, King Marrok. While most villain origin stories seem to take an innocent character that goes through events that make them evil, this one seems to start with a character with seeds of evil already that just grew based on her circumstances.
The story opens with Channary still alive and is crowned queen after the death of their parents. Channary makes Levanna look a little tamer in her manipulative nature. When Channary mysteriously dies, Levanna finally can become queen. The problem is that Channary already has an heir, so Levanna gets rid of her. All Levanna wants is to have power and to be loved. She befriends Sir Evret Hayle, a part of the royal guard. She essentially mistakes his friendliness for something more and wants to be with him. Unfortunately, he is already married to Solstice “Sol” Hayle, and they have their daughter Winter. Since Winter is obviously introduced in Cress and is the main subject in the next novel, it was interesting to see how all these characters came together to have it make sense in the end.
It is surprising how much is packed into this shorter novel. There are insights into Cinder’s origins, the beginnings of the virus that is sent to Earth, and as to why Levanna choose the specific glamour that she uses. While Levanna is not a sympathetic character, it was nice to see her “greyness” where a reader could see her complexity. She is not a good person, but she did go through a lot to get her to an eviler way of thinking. There is a lot less development in her character than I initially expected based on other series of this type, but there is some layering of her story. Not only is it a great origin story for Levanna, but it is also a nice found foundation for the entire series. I enjoyed reading it between books three and four as it just seemed to fit the best there. Overall, this was an interesting addition to the series, and I cannot wait to read the finale next!