THE FAIREST POISON is such a fun retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! I hadn't heard of this book when I stumbled across it on a list of upcoming blog tour promotions. The cover/title caught my eye right away, and I HAD to know if it was a fairy tale retelling. It was, so of course I was in!!!
One thing I wish I had known before starting THE FAIREST POISON? Even though it's marketed as a stand-alone, it's technically the third book in a series of stand-alone novels. WHAT IS HIDDEN (A Cinderella retelling) and WHAT IS LOST (an original story with strains of Little Red Riding Hood) both precede it. As I read TFP, I kept thinking that it would be so nice if Lauren Skidmore would write at least a novella from the past featuring Bianca's brother, Crown Prince Aiden, because I could tell that he had gone through a Cinderella-themed series of events before the novel began. Sucker for fairy tales that I am, I wanted to read that story, too!!! Imagine my surprise when I found out that tale not only existed, but there was ANOTHER book lying between the two. I immediately snagged both books and read them. While I enjoyed both, I would have liked to go into WHAT IS HIDDEN blind, because there were fewer surprises in store for me!
One of the things I enjoyed most about TFP was its freshness and the surprises lying throughout. I loved the way it grabbed hold of the lesser done version of Snow White and used all three poisonous tricks. I loved the way the final curse with the apple and the curse played out. I liked how, instead of dwarfs, the princess has seven guards. It's so clever and witty, and these additions really made me enjoy the novel!
The book is centered around Princess Bianca, who has just returned home to Venesia after having left to capture the Chameleon, who is wanted by the Crown. Rather than lock him up or execute him, however, much to Prince Aiden's chagrin, Bianca decides to use him to figure out who has poisoned her parents and to keep her safe from the person now threatening her own life. She also doesn't expect to have feelings for the man who almost killed her future sister-in-law Evie....
Venesia is a really cool world, and in my head, it is reminiscent of Venice, Italy, especially during its Carnevale di Venezia (Which takes place at the same time as Mardi Gras). The world is one ruled by masks. No face goes bare, and people feel naked without their masks. This is a world where it easy to hide and assume another's identity, a world where it's easy for a Chameleon to cause a ruckus. It's also a world where royalty is neither seen nor heard by anyone without royal blood. They have a Speaker who talks for them. From head to foot, they are fully shrouded in pure white. If someone were to impersonate a royal, who would ever know? The lengths the people of Venesia go to hide themselves could have frightening repercussion, but that also makes it more intriguing and fun to read!
I really liked seeing the way Aiden and Evie's story bridged into a story surrounding Joch and his life as the Chameleon, both of which filled in the backstory of events hinted at throughout TFP. At the same time, I never felt that I was missing anything by not reading their books first. I didn't even know the books existed as I was reading TFP! The transition was well done. Reading the rest of the books just enhanced the experience for me. The fact that are technically two previous books makes me wonder if there will be more going forward. TFP ends well, but touches on the future in a loose way that could lead to one more book. I would definitely read another book featuring Bianca and Joch on their next adventure together!
Ready for more?