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Longer Fiction in Contracted Braille (in EBAE)
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Fairest (2 vol.)
by Gail Carson Levine
A tale of palace intrigue, a magic mirror, a charming prince, and a girl with a beautiful voice who can make the queen sound amazing! 362 pages (2 vol.), Ages 8-12
Item Number: 1356
Category:Longer Fiction in Contracted Braille (in EBAE)
Reviews for Fairest (2 vol.)
|5||Aza isn't just plain. She's plain ugly. In a land where song, grace, and beauty are prized, Aza's large stature, not just in height but also breadth, are deemed appalling. Her features overshadow her amazing abilities in singing. Abandoned at the Featherbed Inn as a newborn, she is lovingly raised by a foster family. But their love can't overcome the low self-esteem Aza develops, because of how other people treat her. When an unexpected chance to travel to court for a royal wedding comes, Aza is hesitant, but goes to help her family. There, she is "befriended" by the new queen, Ivi, who is selfish and self-absorbed. Soon after the wedding, the king is severely injured and Ivi is claimed ruler in his place. Forcing Aza to use her unusual ability to project her voice for her own gains, the queen quickly becomes a dictator who threatens Aza's honor, her tenuous relationship with Prince Ijori (the king's nephew and heir), and the country in general. Can Aza overcome her own lack of self-assurance to save herself and her land?
|5||Gail Carson Levine writes stirring stories based on familiar fairy tales. Her lively yet poignant prose and unforgettable heroines make the usually demur and familiar tales sparkle with creativity and vitality. "Fairest" is a clever and beautifully rendered version of "Snow White".
Ayortha is a kingdom of song. People in that land are moved to sing at any given situation. Aza, (whose name means Lark), is a young girl who was abandoned in Ayortha at the Featherbed Inn. Raised by the kindly innkeeper and his wife, she endures ridicule from some of the inn's guests. Although Aza is blessed with an unsurpassed singing voice, she is cursed with red lips, "red as a dragon's tongue", black hair, "black as a frying pan", and white skin, "the color of skim milk." (These features are not valued in Ayortha, a land which reveres beauty nearly as much as it reveres singing). Not only does Aza struggle with these imperfections, but she has a wide girth which causes her to be clumsy and awkward. However, the girl also has a unique gift: the ability to "Illuse," or to throw her voice and mimic any person. This gift will prove to be her greatest weapon against a malevolently evil force.
When a visiting duchess to the inn needs a companion to accompany her to the royal wedding of King Oscaro, Aza's life is changed forever. When Queen Ivi discovers Aza's talent for illusing, she concocts a plan of deception that involves Aza. Soon, the peasant girl is thrust into a life-and-death struggle against a narcissistic and ruthless queen. Through a creative twist, we as readers realize that things are not what they seem. Is Queen Ivi the greatest danger to Aza, or is someone or something manipulating the new queen? Will Aza find the strength within to save herself and Ayortha, or will her own feelings of inadequacy destroy her?
This novel was impossible to put down. The writing style is fast-paced yet also leaves room for the reader to pause and ponder. As a musician, I loved the premise of the musical kingdom. How true that music brings healing and strength to all people and nations. Aza's journey of self-discovery is wonderfully conveyed, and we see how inner strength and newfound courage truly make a difference. I loved the author's use of the foil characters of Aza and Ivi, and how each one faced conflicts in such vastly different ways. The villain in this story is unlikable but strangely empathetic. The author's examination of our society's preoccupation with self-image and beauty is explored without being trite or preachy. This book will make all who read it appreciate themselves for their uniqueness and abilities. Happy reading, and God bless you all.|
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