Reading A Tale of Two Castles put me in a mood to reread a favorite Gail Carson Levine book, Fairest. Set in the same world as Ella Enchanted (and very loosely connected), this one is a retelling of Snow White.
The main character, Aza, has milky white skin, blood red lips, and coal black hair–the traditional Snow White. Except that Levine takes this to its literal and logical conclusion. Pay no attention to the cover–Aza is ugly. As someone would be who had literally white skin, red lips, and black hair. In her favor, Aza has a kind disposition, a loving family, and a magnificent singing voice. She’s not a princess, but she ends up visiting the castle for the King’s wedding to his new bride, and finds herself caught up in intrigue–and intrigued by the handsome prince.
As with Ella Enchanted, Levine has given us a very clever, practical and creative retelling of a familiar fairy tale. Many of the original elements are there, but reshaped.
Aza is the best part of this. Besides the part about her appearance, she’s a wonderfully human character. She’s not perfect, but she’s sympathetic. She wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t know what to do in some difficult situations. She has to find her own strength, and her own value. She struggles a lot with her appearance, and sometimes gives in to temptations. She’s both likable and realistically flawed.
This is definitely an excellent Snow White retelling–one of the few. It occurred to me I hadn’t read many, and a recent search didn’t turn up much. Anyone have a suggestion for another good retelling of Snow White?
Author’s Site: http://gailcarsonlevine.com/