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Appearances are everything in this exotic retelling of “Snow White” with a dystopian slant.

Ana is nothing like her glamorous mother, Queen Veda, whose hair is black as ravens and whose lips are red as roses. Alas, Queen Veda loathes anyone whose beauty dares to rival her own—including her only daughter. And despite Ana’s attempts to be plain and earn her mother’s affection, she’s sent away to the kingdom’s exclusive boarding school.

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Appearances are everything in this exotic retelling of “Snow White” with a dystopian slant.

Ana is nothing like her glamorous mother, Queen Veda, whose hair is black as ravens and whose lips are red as roses. Alas, Queen Veda loathes anyone whose beauty dares to rival her own—including her only daughter. And despite Ana’s attempts to be plain and earn her mother’s affection, she’s sent away to the kingdom’s exclusive boarding school.

At the Academy, Ana is devastated when her only friend abandons her for the popular girls. Isolated and alone, Ana resolves to look like a true princess to earn the acceptance she desires. But when she uncovers the dangerous secret that makes all of the girls at the Academy so gorgeous, just how far will Ana go to fit in?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Who is the fairest in all the kingdom of Ran? It is Queen Veda with her hair as black as ebony and her lips as red as roses. Her daughter, Ana, learned many years ago to deny her own budding beauty, and she now hides it with short, cropped, unclean hair, an overweight body and plain, utilitarian dresses. The Queen employs a beauty consultant whose duty is to mix potions to keep the Queen forever young. The Queen feigns an interest in her sixteen-year old daughter. Ana is sent to the far off Academy in the mountains with her best friend Pell and forty-nine other beautiful maidens from the kingdom. At the Academy, Ana becomes suspicious of the school's real purpose because the focus is more on popularity and looks than academics. Before long, Pell gravitates toward the popular girls and tries to convince Ana to take a special pill, called "Beauty", taken by all the girls in the belief that it will make them more beautiful. Away from her mother's dominance, Ana's epiphany comes when she realizes that she can be beautiful without the aid of a pill. The drugged young girls begin to crave the medication and become physically ill and Ana, believing her mother is their salvation from the odious Headmaster and his evil pill, returns to the palace only to learn of her mother's role in the plot to destroy all the fair maidens of Ran. The betrayed Ana confronts her evil mother, who flies into a rage when she learns that Ana is now the fairest in the land. It is a rage that results in her death. This retelling of Snow White has all the elements of a fairy tale. It is one of jealousy, betrayal, self-confidence, and family, all wrapped inside an intriguing story. The plot unfolds with a degree of foreshadowing but enough suspense to hold a reader's attention. Because this is a quick read, there is not enough time to flesh out characters and its brevity accounts for the sudden reversal of Ana's self-image. It is important to note that Ana uses strength of character and not beauty to stand up to her mother's heinous crime. The abrupt ending leaves loose ends, which may frustrate some, but hints of a sequel. Young teens will be drawn in by the cover and will discover that Ana, in her faraway kingdom, is faced with many of the same pressures, like body image, as girls today. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442472655
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 175
  • Sales rank: 581,711
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.06 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Ohlin is the author of Consent, Thorn Abbey, and Beauty. She lives with her family in upstate New York.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Queen Veda, the second monarch of the royal kingdom of Ran, stood inside her enormous closet and surveyed the contents.

Her dresses were organized by occasion. On the left were the ones for affairs of state. Next to them, evening clothes. Then day clothes, then hunting clothes, then clothes for brisk exercise.

The dresses on the far right were for funerals and executions. She took one of them off its hanger and examined it. It was a long, wonderfully soft gown made out of black velvet. The collar was pure fawn, and the buttons, onyx inlaid with rubies.

The queen held the gown up to her body. The onyx was the color of her long, shiny black hair; the rubies were the color of her lips. She ran her fingers over the fawn collar.

She turned to the Beauty Consultant, who was sitting on his favorite stool. He was plucking apart a long-stemmed red rose.

"Well?" she demanded.

But the Beauty Consultant was engrossed in his rose. He was a tiny man, no taller than her dressing table. He had a shriveled bald head and hooded black eyes. The queen was not sure how old he was — perhaps a hundred, perhaps older. She had inherited him from her mother, the Lady Despina.

Momi. God rest her soul, she thought.

Or maybe not.

The Beauty Consultant was still absorbed in dismembering the rose. There were red petals scattered all over his lap.

"Well?" the queen repeated, irritated.

The Beauty Consultant barely raised his head. He regarded the queen from beneath his hooded eyelids. His black eyes glowed silver for a moment, then turned bright green. The queen smiled a slow, satisfied smile. The colors never lied.

"Yes, Majesty, most becoming," the Beauty Consultant whispered. He held the nearly beheaded red rose up to his mouth and nibbled delicately on a thorn.

Queen Veda returned the black velvet dress to its hanger, stroking the collar one last time. When was the last time she had worn this dress? Oh, yes. Galen's funeral. And just before that, at the funeral of Galen's young friend, Jana or Jaffa or whatever.

"The pink one, Your Majesty!" the Beauty Consultant whispered, startling her.

The pink one. Queen Veda ran her fingertips across her dresses, searching for it. All her dresses were lined up neat as soldiers: black silk with gold brocade, brown taffeta, emerald green satin, red mohair with matching cape.

Ah, there it was. The pink lace gown was the only item of pink clothing she owned. It was a daring shade for her to wear, at her advanced age of — anyhow, it was a pale, delicate pink, the color of a young girl's blushing cheeks. It was a color she herself used to favor as a young girl. Galen had liked it on her, and of course, before Galen, the other ones.

Queen Veda held it up to her body. The lace was so delicate: wisps of pink thread engaged in a gossamer geometry of flowers, birds, hearts.

She smiled at the Beauty Consultant, waiting for an answer. He was flinging the rose petals off his lap, one by one, and muttering in his strange language which she had never understood:

"Desse ciara treffen du mara."

"Pay attention!" the queen demanded.

arThe Beauty Consultant stopped muttering and stared at her. His eyes turned briefly cloudy, then settled back into their oily, inscrutable blackness. The Queen felt a rush of something unexpected — disappointment, rage. She gave a snort of annoyance and jammed the gown back onto its hanger.

"It was your idea," she muttered.

There was a ripping sound. One of her long fingernails had caught on the lace and torn part of the neckline.

The queen was about to extract her fingernail when she noticed that the Beauty Consultant's eyes were glowing red. Fueled by the compliment, Queen Veda continued ripping, ripping all the way down the bodice.

It was so easy. Pleasant, even.

When she was done, she was breathing hard. Her fingernails had dug into her palms, piercing the skin. But it didn't matter. The Beauty Consultant's eyes told her what she needed to know. They were the color of fire, of the fallen rose petals, of the blood that streaked her hands.

"Yes, it is you. It has always been you. And it will always be you," the Beauty Consultant whispered. "Your Majesty!"

Yes, yes, yes, she thought.

A magnificent sense of calm washed over her.

Copyright © 2005 by Nancy Butcher

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    'Beauty' is a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale. It follows

    'Beauty' is a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale. It follows main character Tatiana Anatolia - known as Ana - as she goes about her daily life as the princess of Ran. Her mother, Veda, is the queen of Ran and the most beautiful woman that Ana has ever seen. Ana used to be beautiful too, but that all changed on her twelfth birthday, when a visiting dignitary gave her a compliment and she saw how angry it made her mother. Ana has been actively keeping herself ugly ever since that day four years ago, mostly by eating pastries and not bathing. Soon, Ana and her best friend Pell are invited to study at the new and esteemed Academy in the mountains. Ana notices that all the girls that attend the Academy are beautiful and she can't help but question the real reason they are all at the Academy. Soon, the girls begin taking a strange pill called Beauty and they fall extremely ill. Ana must discover the truth about Beauty and the Academy in order to save her friends, but what she finds instead just might be the end of her.

    This was a really well written retelling of the Snow White fairy tale and I loved the story as a whole. The plot was definitely told in a fairy tale fashion, but it also contained a bit of mystery as Ana tries to discover the truth behind Beauty and the Academy. The book wasn't very long at all and I feel that much of the story got cut off too early because of that. The plot was an excellent one - intriguing and enchanting - and it would have been so much better if it could have developed more. The characters were also well done, but they didn't have the chance to experience much growth and the reader didn't have enough time to connect with them as they should have. Like with the plot, I think that the potential was definitely there and the only thing that should've been different is the length of the book. With more pages, the characters and the plot both would've been able to ripen into an exceptional novel. However, for the short length that we did get, the book was impressive. I love fairy tale retellings and the author definitely delivered with this one. Like all fairy tales, this one speaks of deeper issues such as family, friendship, love, betrayal, and self confidence, among others. The reader is able to take away a valuable lesson about beauty and its true worth. I am definitely eager to read more titles by the author and I definitely would recommend this book to fans of YA fantasy and fairy tale retellings.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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