exciting and engrossing new fairytale retelling
If you love a snarky heroine, surprise twists and turns, and a fairytale-themed plot, THE EVIL QUEEN is designed to be your new favorite read. This book follows Everly in the first person as she uncovers her history and perseveres to protect the people she loves. From the beginning, we know that girls were born after their mothers ate from a forbidden, magical apple tree, and that they will play a role in bringing a fairytale to life- Snow White. However, which role each girl will play is unknown. The beginning of the book also gives us a taste of where things will end, but we must also follow the journey to get there.
Everly was taken from Enchantia, the magical land where the women had eaten from a tree which is full of mystical creatures, fairies, fairytales, and humans with magic, when she was an infant. She has been raised in the mortal realm with her twin sister, Hartly. Now, as a teenager, Everly has begun to see things in mirrors. In particular, she sees another girl who looks like Snow White and whom she refers to as an angel. As she will soon learn, however, her scrying powers (e.g. seeing things in mirrors) are from her Sorcerian heritage. Sorcerians do not have wells of magical ability like others in the realm. Instead, they must take the power from others to use for their natural abilities but also to take other abilities. If they take a little, the being will feel tired until they regenerate it, but if they take a lot, they will kill them. As such, they are generally considered evil and hated by many.
Although we know that the girls and main characters will play out the tale of Snow White, who will play which role is unclear. Each character seems to possess characteristics or abilities that would point to one or many of the potential roles. For instance, Prince Roth Charmaine (Everly’s love interest) could be Prince Charming or he could be the Huntsman or he could be something else altogether. It is only as the story plays out that we might be able to learn how the fairytale will come to pass.
What I loved: This book surprised me in a lot of ways. Although Everly seems slated to be the Evil Queen, a major theme is that your actions determine whether you are evil or good, and this has many sides/views. For instance, if you do something which could seem evil out of self-defense, does this make you evil? There are also some themes about prejudice (regarding trolls and sorcerers) and sexism which also add to the thoughtful plot. Familial love is also a major theme in the book, particularly love between siblings. The romantic love also adds a nice touch to the overall story.
World-building in this book is top-notch. While the early parts of the book are a little slower due to all the information there is to take in, this pays off later in the book when it is all much easier to understand and imagine. Adding to that, the characters, primary and secondary, are all really well fleshed out and come alive throughout the story. There are so many fantastic characters whom I adored throughout the story, and aside from the main characters, Phobia, a spidorpian, might be my favorite. On the whole, there’s so many to love, hate, and be intrigued by though that I felt completely engrossed in the story and their lives.
As for the main characters, primarily Everly and Roth, they are beautifully crafted. Everly is multidimensional. We see the world through her eyes, and although she is full of snark, she is also full of heart- whether guarding herself, worrying about her family, or caring for her friends. Roth is a completely swoony hero, and while he doesn’t always make the best decisions, he also cares deeply and tries to do what is right.
Final verdict: Overall, this is a consuming, engrossing, and addictive YA fantasy/fairytale retelling that will keep you guessing. Fans of Gena Showalter, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Gregory Maguire will delight in this exciting new tale that turns Snow White on its head.