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.
First published: 2015
Fairest by Marissa Meyer is part of the Lunar Chronicles, although it isn’t truly part of the series in the sense that you don’t have to read it to understand the other books. I guess you can say it’s a companion novel? Is that what those are called? I don’t know. Whatever this is, though, I am really glad I read Fairest before reading Winter, since it really does add something to the story of this universe. Plus, it’s just a really great book!
The novella tells the story of Levana, who we know from the rest of the books as the evil Lunar queen, as well as Winter’s stepmother. Her background is hinted at but never fully explained, and I can see why Meyer decided to devote an entire novella to it. Levana is fascinating. She’s a true villain and completely insane, but intriguing nevertheless, especially because you don’t get to see the story through the eyes of the bad guy/girl all that often.
I don’t have that many thoughts on the book, to be entirely honest. I’m mostly just surprised at how evil that family is. Levana is bad, but next to Channary she seemed like the sensible choice for a queen. She truly thinks that she’s doing the right thing, and because we see everything through her eyes, the things she did almost made sense, kind of? Except the murdering bits. Those were just plain awful.
The writing, as always with Marissa Meyer, is just lovely. Good dialogue, pageturner-y overall style (that’s the professional term) and just really great. I also really liked the exploration of love that goes on in the book. Levana claims to be in love with another character, but he tells her that what she feels isn’t love and that she has no idea of what love is, which seems to be mostly true.
All in all, Fairest is a really interesting addition to the Lunar Chronicles and I recommend reading it before you read Winter, if you’re planning on reading that (or the rest of the series) at all. Having just read Winter myself, I did find that knowing more about Levana added another layer to the story, which is always a good thing, I think.