"The Fairest of Them All" by Carolyn Turgeon is a clever mixture of two classic fairy tales, Snow White and Rapunzel. But Turgeon makes this tale definitely adults-only.
The story begins simply with the story of Rapunzel living with the witch in the middle of a forest. When the prince comes to visit, Rapunzel does lower her hair so that he can climb up and visit. But when the visit suddenly turns into a "quickie," this reviewer got the first inkling that perhaps this is not a young adult book.
Indeed, adult themes pervade the story. Because revealing them would be a big spoiler, it must suffice to say this is not the Grimm of anyone's childhood. But it's good. It's really good -- well-written with just the right amount of dialogue, description, and action. The book brings Rapunzel's story to life in a way that both fascinates and repels the reader. But throughout the story, in spite of some horrid decisions, Rapunzel remains a likable character.
That's some good writing. Though Rapunzel does some pretty awful things, somehow Turgeon manages to allow the reader to see the story's events through Rapunzel's eyes, and her actions are at least explained, even though perhaps they cannot really be justified. And the reader will like her. At least this reader did.
The author explains in the back of the book, "I actually have always loved fairy tales, their combination of light and dark, the glitter and shimmer along with all that hatred and jealousy and eating of hearts! That's kind of my aesthetic generally, beauty and darkness mixed together."
Adults who loved their fairy tales will really enjoy this book, just as I did.
Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by the publisher, Touchstone, for review purposes.
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