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.
Tell Me More: The length of Fairest will surprise readers: it sets out to illuminate Queen Levana’s past in less than 250 pages, and not only does it accomplish this goal with ease, it also initiates several of the Lunar Chronicles’ complicated plotlines. Because before Levana was a queen feared by millions of people, she was a princess. She was a girl, and every girl has a story.
Levana’s story begins when her parents’ lives end, and Luna prepares to welcome a new queen. Channary is dismissive of anything that is not fun and interesting to her, and the things that fulfill those qualifications tend to involve cruelty and malice. While Channary could care less about the actual logistics of ruling a nation, Levana is clever and focused. She knows what it would mean to rule Luna, and her ambition is matched by her willingness to do what it takes to succeed. Like the previous novels in the series, Fairest is driven by the female characters first and foremost, and the events in this book have consequences that stretch on for years and across both Luna and Earth.
And like many emotionally cataclysmic events, it’s all to do with love, or at least, what Levana believes to be love. She genuinely sees her infatuation with royal guard Sir Evret Hayle as true love, regardless of the fact that Hayle is happily married. Her desire to be loved doesn’t justify her actions, however, and she does consciously make some decisions that are truly horrifying.
Meyer paces these revelations with a steady hand, allowing the reader to see the full reflection that Levana has created for herself in the mirror. Levana is a talented and highly intelligent girl, but those qualities don’t guarantee that she would be a good queen. She asks too much of the people around her, and of herself, and when she doesn’t like what she sees, she rejects it summarily. Even in those moments when Levana is able to get what she wants, there is a burning need for more control, one that ultimately consumes her. Her hatred for mirrors highlights the tight grasp she has learned to hold over her public image, and with the backstory that Meyer provides in this novella, it completes the full picture of a woman lost in her own ambition.
The Final Say: Fairest is a chilling addition to the Lunar Chronicles canon, setting up for the inevitable final stand against a queen who has everything, including herself, to lose.
Marissa Meyer lives near Seattle with her husband and their three cats. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, color-coordinating her bookshelf…) and will take any excuse to put on a costume. She may or may not be a cyborg.