Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen - Serena Valentino Let's be honest: this is easily one of the top ten most bad ass covers I have ever seen. Kudos to jacket designers Adrienne Brown and Caroline Egan, because no matter what the story had been about, I don't think I could have left it on the shelf and walked away.

Fairest of All didn't grab me, with the result that it was a bit of a struggle to keep my focus. That's not a crime, considering I'm almost 27 and reading a book for a much younger audience, but what's much more off-putting is my strong suspicion that wee!me, even at six or seven years old, wouldn't have enjoyed this book very much, either. I recognized Fairest of All for what it was before I even opened the cover: a Disney-licensed retelling of Snow White from the perspective of the Wicked Queen with a target audience twenty years younger than me.

Turns out even those standards were too high.

If done well, simplicity can be good and extremely effective. If done badly, however, simplicity is at best boring and at worst patronizing. On the bright side, I found this merely boring but not quite a cure for my insomnia, so the author can take that to heart at the very least.

Valentino favored safety over creativity in her retelling, and maybe that's due to the influence of her publisher. Disney's not exactly on the cutting edge of artful risk-taking. I love fairy tales and the popular trend of retelling them from a different POV, but those always have something to offer beyond a predictable back story and the inconsistent voice of another character, making this attempt fall flat. Overall I was disappointed with both the story and the writing.

But holy God, that cover! If I owned a coffee table, this would be the book I left sitting out to catch the eye of anyone stopping by and to freak myself out a bit when I wander around in the middle of the night. Excellent.