The Fairest of Them All: A Novel
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The Fairest of Them All: A Novel

3.8 28
by Carolyn Turgeon
     
 

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What if Rapunzel was Snow White’s evil stepmother?

In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.

In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by

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Overview

What if Rapunzel was Snow White’s evil stepmother?

In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.

In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.

Now king, he weds his intended and the kingdom rejoices when a daughter named Snow White is born. Beyond the castle walls, Rapunzel waits in her crumbling tower, gathering news of her beloved from those who come to her seeking wisdom. She tries to mend her broken heart but her love lingers, pulsing in the magic tendrils of her hair.

The king, too, is haunted by his memories, but after his queen’s mysterious death, he is finally able to follow his heart into the darkness of the forest. But can Rapunzel trade the shadows of the forest for the castle and be the innocent beauty he remembers?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Turgeon’s mash-up of “Rapunzel” and “Snow White,” the longhaired maiden isn’t quite so fair and innocent as in the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. After a few hours of passion with the prince from the nearby kingdom in her bedroom tower, Rapunzel finds that she’s pregnant with his child. The only problem? The prince is engaged to another. The witch Mathena, determined to prevent her adopted daughter from becoming a mistress to the most powerful man in the land, casts a spell to keep the prince from finding Rapunzel again. Seven years later, when his wife dies under questionable circumstances, the prince, now king, finds Rapunzel and makes her his new queen. But his legitimate daughter, the beautiful Snow White—along with the rest of the kingdom—is weary of a witch’s daughter assuming the throne. And not without good reason. For, when Rapunzel learns from her magic mirror that she’s no longer the fairest of them all—that, in fact, Snow White is “a thousand times more fair”—she turns downright ugly. Turgeon (The Next Full Moon) imaginatively combines murder, revenge, sex, magic, and other genre tropes into a dark and twisted fairy tale. Agent: Elaine Markson, Markson Thoma. (Aug.)
for Shelf Awareness - Jessica Howard
"The connection Turgeon makes between the two familiar fairy tales brings out the humanity in the 'wicked queen' of the Snow White story, making the reader see how she came to be who she was. Fans of fairy tales and paranormal romances will both enjoy this magical little tale."
Eleanor Brown
"Intricate, inventive, and charged with magic. Carolyn Turgeon masterfully clears the mists of fairy tale and legend to reveal the complex humanity that lies beneath the stories of Rapunzel and Snow White."
Jamie Ford
"I loved this unexpected spin on the story of Rapunzel, a strong-willed devourer of hearts. Be careful, she just might take a bite of yours."
Caroline Leavitt
"Magical, mythical and totally original, Turgeon's haunting story of Rapunzel and Snow White unfolds like a waking dream, with prose that shimmers like cut diamonds. About love, longing, and loss, it turns the fairy tale into something as provocative as it is profound."
Jo-Ann Mapson
"Forget everything you know about fairy tales filled with glamorous princesses and happy endings. In Carolyn Turgeon's skilled hands, characters that have long been the bedrock of literature come to life, revealing their all too human desires, and a mesmerizing, hidden darkness. Her body of work is already substantial and growing, which is good news for readers everything. Fairest of Them All will move her into a larger sphere, worldwide. I loved this book from start to finish."
Margaret Dilloway
“Turgeon reimagines two fairy tales to produce a lush, dark yarn. Her steadfast vision reveals the shadow and light battling in each of the characters’ hearts.”
Alisa Kwitney/Sheckley
“There are fairy tale princesses like Rapunzel, who are lovely and compassionate and kind. And there are fairy tale villainesses like Snow White’s stepmother, who are ambitious and clever and wicked. In Carolyn Turgeon’s brilliant retelling, however, good and evil are combined to create a fairy tale anti-heroine who could break your heart – and then eat it.”
Ronlyn Domingue
The Fairest of Them All possesses the spirit of all great fairy tales—filled with brave hearts, twists of fate, and incredible transformations. Carolyn Turgeon honors the traditional stories of Rapunzel and Snow White yet intertwines their lives in a way that gives the tales, as well as both women, new dimensions. The dark, sensual magic at work in this book will allure readers right to the shocking, beautiful end.”
M.J. Rose
“How very lucky we grownups are to have Carolyn Turgeon’s fairy tale to captivate us. What a joy to be delighted again by witches, princesses and Kings – now all fleshed out and psychologically complex and compelling. Under Turgeon’s deft hand, Rapunzel’s and Snow White’s tale is as beautiful as it terrifying. Enter into this enchanted forest and be enthralled!”
Jeanine Cummins
"To call Carolyn Turgeon’s The Fairest of Them All a retelling doesn’t seem quite accurate. This story of Rapunzel and Snow White may feel as familiar as it is thoroughly innovative, but it reads like an original – like the real story. Turgeon has managed to peel back centuries of dressing and sweetness and lace that have been heaped upon these characters. She has plucked them from their perfumed clouds, and returned them to their primal form, to the unique women they were once, before their fairy tales diluted them. In gratitude, they sing from the pages, all full of suffering and longing and ferocious intellect. This is the Rapunzel I have always wanted to know."
Timothy Schaffert
"I love all of Carolyn Turgeon's novels, and this is her best yet. Sensual and captivating, The Fairest of Them All follows the life and loves of a classic fairy-tale villain – the Wicked Stepmother. We gain sympathy for this devil, as the novel fathoms the depths of her vanity and her history of heartbreak. I was ready to follow this magical story anywhere it took me, and it was full of surprises and delights every step of the way."
From the Publisher
"Intricate, inventive, and charged with magic. Carolyn Turgeon masterfully clears the mists of fairy tale and legend to reveal the complex humanity that lies beneath the stories of Rapunzel and Snow White."

"I loved this unexpected spin on the story of Rapunzel, a strong-willed devourer of hearts. Be careful, she just might take a bite of yours."

"Magical, mythical and totally original, Turgeon's haunting story of Rapunzel and Snow White unfolds like a waking dream, with prose that shimmers like cut diamonds. About love, longing, and loss, it turns the fairy tale into something as provocative as it is profound."

"Forget everything you know about fairy tales filled with glamorous princesses and happy endings. In Carolyn Turgeon's skilled hands, characters that have long been the bedrock of literature come to life, revealing their all too human desires, and a mesmerizing, hidden darkness. Her body of work is already substantial and growing, which is good news for readers everything. Fairest of Them All will move her into a larger sphere, worldwide. I loved this book from start to finish."

“Turgeon reimagines two fairy tales to produce a lush, dark yarn. Her steadfast vision reveals the shadow and light battling in each of the characters’ hearts.”

“There are fairy tale princesses like Rapunzel, who are lovely and compassionate and kind. And there are fairy tale villainesses like Snow White’s stepmother, who are ambitious and clever and wicked. In Carolyn Turgeon’s brilliant retelling, however, good and evil are combined to create a fairy tale anti-heroine who could break your heart – and then eat it.”

The Fairest of Them All possesses the spirit of all great fairy tales—filled with brave hearts, twists of fate, and incredible transformations. Carolyn Turgeon honors the traditional stories of Rapunzel and Snow White yet intertwines their lives in a way that gives the tales, as well as both women, new dimensions. The dark, sensual magic at work in this book will allure readers right to the shocking, beautiful end.”

“How very lucky we grownups are to have Carolyn Turgeon’s fairy tale to captivate us. What a joy to be delighted again by witches, princesses and Kings – now all fleshed out and psychologically complex and compelling. Under Turgeon’s deft hand, Rapunzel’s and Snow White’s tale is as beautiful as it terrifying. Enter into this enchanted forest and be enthralled!”

"To call ’s The Fairest of Them All a retelling doesn’t seem quite accurate. This story of Rapunzel and Snow White may feel as familiar as it is thoroughly innovative, but it reads like an original – like the real story. Turgeon has managed to peel back centuries of dressing and sweetness and lace that have been heaped upon these characters. She has plucked them from their perfumed clouds, and returned them to their primal form, to the unique women they were once, before their fairy tales diluted them. In gratitude, they sing from the pages, all full of suffering and longing and ferocious intellect. This is the Rapunzel I have always wanted to know."

"I love all of Carolyn Turgeon's novels, and this is her best yet. Sensual and captivating, The Fairest of Them All follows the life and loves of a classic fairy-tale villain – the Wicked Stepmother. We gain sympathy for this devil, as the novel fathoms the depths of her vanity and her history of heartbreak. I was ready to follow this magical story anywhere it took me, and it was full of surprises and delights every step of the way."

Library Journal
Turgeon (Godmother; Mermaid) is known for putting her own spin on traditional fairy tales and here posits the question: What if Rapunzel was Snow White's wicked stepmother? Most of the elements of both stories remain intact, but certain details are twisted just so, creating this entirely new take on the oft-told tales. Rapunzel's hair is her magic, allowing her to feel the emotions of anyone it touches, and her first-person point of view allows readers to experience all the love and longing she holds for Josef, the prince. Her desperation to be with him at any cost sets off a chain of events that will seem, to the enlightened, orchestrated. Her early acceptance and love for Josef's daughter, Snow White, goes through a slow, unfolding erosion. The refrain to Rapunzel's magic mirror—"Who's the fairest?"—along with her suspicion of her adopted mother, Mathena, adds to the creeping horror that permeates the story from the beginning. VERDICT As in Godmother, Turgeon incorporates a sense of melancholy that adds an enormous amount of depth and sympathy for what would otherwise be unsympathetic characters. Rapunzel's growing affection for Gilles (here the king's falconer, taking the traditional role of huntsman) and her absolute devastation at a shocking discovery both ring true, adding a layer of realism to the magic-sparked tale. Lovers of fairy tales will enjoy Turgeon's fresh take on classic stories.—Charli Osborne, Oxford P.L., MI

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451683783
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
08/06/2013
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
262
Sales rank:
529,987
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Turgeon is the author of Rain Village, Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale, and the young adult novel The Next Full Moon. She is the editor of Mermaids, a special-edition annual magazine, and teaches writing in the low-residency MFA program at the University of Alaska at Anchorage. Find out more at CarolynTurgeon.com and IAmaMermaid.com.

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The Fairest of Them All: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't get enough of Carolyn Turgeon's books. It's so frustrating to do a search for books and all you get back is Twilight teenager books or stupid romance novels with cheesy covers. It only took me two days to get through this book because once you start, you can't put it down. The characters draw you in from the first sentence. You feel like you are in the book yourself, living Repunzels life. If you like fairy tales but you are an adult, you have to read these books. Please Ms. Turgeon...write more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this re-telling of a classic story! It gives so much depth to characters we thought we knew, while still being believable.
MarianneLee_092 More than 1 year ago
Think you know everything there is to know about Rapunzel? YOU DON’T. The Fairest of Them All is a magical and imaginative story that explores everything that happens when fairytale characters don’t have their happily ever after. Oh. My. God. I’d initially picked up this book thinking it would be a mild, fluffy read. I didn’t expect the stories to differ much from their original companions (other than Rapunzel being Snow White’s stepmom), but what I got from this story was a wonderful surprise. This book was so captivating. From the prologue, I was immediately hooked. Rapunzel was the protagonist here. Forget about the singing and dancing Disney character, because she’s nothing like that. Rapunzel evolves in this book many times. At the beginning, we see her as the young and beautiful girl who let a prince fall into bed with her. She’s then left alone to pick up the pieces of her broken heart while the Prince marries another. In this part, you can’t help but feel overwhelming pity for the girl. Then, when Rapunzel finally gets what she wanted: her happily ever after, we start to see her desperation at wanting to be the  fairest in the entire Kingdom. We see her slow but steady descent into “evil”. After that, when Rapunzel is finally consumed by her desperation, she decides to get rid of the only thing standing in her way from being the fairest: Snow White. I’ve got to applaud Carolyn Turgeon. She created an amazing character change in Rapunzel. It was amazing seeing the heroine  turn into The Evil Queen. We got to see into her innermost dreams and desires, but also her fears and motivations. She wasn’t  Evil because she chose it, but because she was given reasons to be so. It was also nice to see than in this book, Snow White wasn’t the all-loving, forgiving saint who’s represented in every story.   Here we see real personality from her; we may even dislike her as much as The Evil Queen does! (I know I came to dislike her in one point of the book!) This story was nicely crafted. The way Carolyn Turgeon intertwined both Snow White’s and Rapunzel’s stories, and added a  dark aspect to it was… mind-blowing. There’s a really huge plot twist that I was not expecting in this book, that when it happened, it left me shocked. I definitely was not prepared for that. I also wasn’t prepared for the other fairytale that was suddenly intertwined at the end.   When I reached the 93% mark, I was desperately hoping the book never ended. I think the only drawback of this book was its pacing. At times the book felt like it dragged on and on, without any significant  events occurring. I think this has to do mainly with the fact that there was a lot of description. Don’t get me wrong the descriptions where beautiful, they were great, but it’s easy to lose track of the story when you’re drowned in description. Overall, Carolyn Turgeon creates such a wonderful story, that you’ll be left dreading to pass the last page. Rating: 4.5 Stars
donnasreview More than 1 year ago
Some parts disappointing. Seems the writer got in a hurry to finish so went light on areas that could have been of real interest. Like the seven dwarfs/bandits. But if you are looking for something light and somewhat good. Go for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spellbinding novel about how and why, exactly, wicked queens become wicked. In concept, a mashup of Rapunzel and Snow White, but so fully developed it feels like its own fairy tale, especially considering Turgeon's choice to make Rapunzel a powerful enchantress in her own right, before she ever even lets down her hair. It's a pleasure to watch Rapunzel's slow descent into evil, and Turgeon's ability to fully inhabit every moment of this novel--to make it sing with life and sensuality--is breathtaking. Fans of Gregory Maguire's WICKED and Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE MISTS OF AVALON, take note: this one's for you! - Mary McMyne
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finished this book in two days. It kept my attention and the way the author intertwined the two fairytales made it a great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very enjoyable book in my favorite genre, fantasy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful and haunting, this is the kind of book that sweeps you away into another world. Yes, it's inventive - the plot merges Rapunzel and Snow White's stories - and a hell of a fun read. (How great to read a novel that lives up to the "impossible to put down" designation!) But I also loved the richness of the characters. These are multi-dimensional human beings, conflicted and confused, just like we all are. Even at her most "evil" I could never hate Rapunzel. She was too real, too human. I felt disgust at her behavior, but I always understood it. And, as always, Turgeon's language was just pure poetry. I'm a longtime fan of her's and I feel sometimes like I'm reading her language I could happily drown in it, I'm so immersed. She really does create another world in The Fairest of Them All. And although it's a sometimes terrifying, tragic one, it's one I didn't want to leave.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Prose so beautiful, it made me weep + a bonafide page-turner!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved reading the story and really enjoyed how it unfolded. Took me by suprise. Will be recommending to my book club and looking for more by author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome interwininf of storyies
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'The Fairest of Them All' is a mesmerizing fairy tale retelling that answers a curious question: What if Rapunzel was Snow White's evil stepmother? We are all familiar with the fairy tales and these two famous women, but what if they were connected in a way nobody has ever known before? This was a captivating and enchanting novel that I couldn't put down. Fairy tales and retellings are pretty popular right now, but this one stood out for me. I loved the idea of mixing two fairy tales together - Rapunzel and Snow White - and playing out what would happen. Like most, I have never considered the possibility that these two could be related - let alone Rapunzel being Snow White's evil stepmother. I was instantly curious about the plot and dying to see what would become of the story. What the novel gave me far exceeded any expectations I may have had and then some. The narrative is told from Rapunzel's point of view, and begins when she is just a teenager. We get an inside look at her life at the tower and how she helps heal those around her - although she always dreams of something more for herself. I loved getting to know this famous girl by listening to her thoughts and seeing her daily life. She was a wonderful character - kind, strong, smart, devoted, and beautiful. As the book progresses, we see Rapunzel's character mature, grow, and then change as she falls in love with the prince (who becomes king) and when she ascends the throne as the new queen (and there's magic!). I both loved and hated seeing her character grow and change - it made the story both sweet and heartbreaking. Since it's told from Rapunzel's POV, you get to see what really happens behind the scenes on her side and things aren't as simple as you would think. The plot was original and unique - one that definitely stands out from others in the genre. The writing was lyrical with vivid details and descriptions that had me easily imagining myself beside the characters as the book played out. There was a natural yet fast pace to the story and the events flowed effortlessly together throughout the novel. I'll definitely be eagerly awaiting this author's next work and reading everything else she's published while I wait. I very highly recommend this book to fans of YA fantasy fiction, fairy tales, and fairy tale retellings - you will love the twist to the fairy tales you know and love while gaining access to a captivating new story at the same time. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
Welcome to a new take on those fairytales we all read when we were kids! Rapunzel, with that long, flowing hair is Snow Whites' wicked stepmother? Who even knew Rapunzel had a mean, narcissistic bone in her body? Who knew she had a magic mirror? For that matter, who knew Snow White could be so nasty to anyone? And Rapunzel's Prince? Not even going there, his all-consuming love for Rapunzel obviously ended when he closed his bedroom door, I mean, can you handle a menage-a-trois in a fiary tale? The Fairest of them All by Carolyn Turgeon is a gutsy take on the revered Fairy Tale genre-very gutsy and there are a few very dark twists that would shock Mother Goose and even the Brothers Grimm! Carolyn Turgeon weaves these two tales together with very dark thread, and more than a few shocking details! This is NOT your simple Happily Ever After Fairy Tale, trust me! It is a an imaginative and well-told twisted tale of love, lust, insecurity, dark secrets and shocking revelations, not too hot, not too cold-it was just right for my afternoon escape from reality! But be warned! You may never look at these characters the same again! An ARC edition was provided by NetGalley and Touchstone in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another book made unreadable by plot spoilers telling every fetail of the book, then bragging how they got their book for free for their so called honest review. Face it...its not an honest review! It is a bought review! Call it what it is. So stop telling the entire story in your review. Just state if it was good or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Bonnie_W More than 1 year ago
Last year when THE NEXT FULL MOON debuted, I was lucky enough to meet Carolyn Turgeon.  She whispered secrets about how she was working on a book about Rapunzel that had an unexpected twist: Rapunzel grows up to become Snow White's Stepmother.  What a stunner!  I immediately wanted to know more, and I'm so excited to share my review of that book, FAIREST OF THEM ALL, with you now.  One thing I love about all of Turgeon's books is the way she mixes fairy tales in new, innovative ways.  There's heart, there's motivation, there's...humanity.  Fairy tale characters are more than just sweet, kind souls who live Happily Ever After.  There's betrayal and heartache, too, just like in real life, and this infusion makes Turgeon's books more realistic to me.  I talk a little bit more about this element when discussing GODMOTHER and MERMAID in a guest post I wrote during the inaugural Fairy Tale Fortnight.  Turgeon's books, as with the vast majority of fairy tale retellings, are period pieces, yet hers have a more historical feel than many others I've read. It amazes me to see how different Turgeon's books are from one another, yet how easy it is to point her tone out from everyone else's.  I could do it blindfolded.  GODMOTHER features magical realism and leaves you questioning so much, MERMAID features a dual POV from not only The Little Mermaid's very own mermaid, but the human princess destined to marry the prince.  Even THE NEXT FULL MOON is unique, revolving around the Swan Maiden's daughter as she begins following in her mother's footsteps.  Now, with FAIREST OF THEM ALL, readers are treated to a tale of love and heartache as the story of Rapunzel is turned on its head and twisted together with Snow White in a way you wouldn't expect.  There's also a twist that brings in an additional fairy tale toward the very end of the book, but it's very blink-and-you-miss-it, and since it's at the end and a secret, I obviously can't say anymore on the topic. It's very easy to sympathize with Rapunzel, who falls instantly for the traveling prince she can never have.  She's grown up sheltered by Mathena Gothel her entire life, safe in the knowledge that Mathena saved her from a mother who didn't want her, carrying only for her rapunzel-addiction.  She mixes herbs and plants alonside Mathena for women wishing to forget heartache, looking to terminate a pregnancy, increase fertility, etc.  She never realizes that Mathena is more than she says, harboring deep secrets of her own.  When Prince Josef visits and meets Rapunzel, the attraction is instant.  Mathena forbids them from seeing one another again and locks Rapunzel away in the tower, but the prince comes back and climbs her hair.  When he leaves again, he gives Rapunzel both a child and the knowledge that he's destined to marry another woman.  There is no happiness for her.  When she later loses the baby, Rapunzel falls into a deep depression.  Over time, she learns to live again, and then the day comes when Josef returns.  His Queen has died and, having never forgotten Rapunzel, he returns to ask her hand in marriage.  But court life isn't what Rapunzel envisioned it would be, especially when every time she looks at her lovely stepdaughter Snow White, she sees the face of her dead rival, a woman she had a hand in killing... As with all of Turgeon's books, there are twists and turns and unexpected surprises that no reader will see coming, try as one might.  There were realizations that left me reeling in ways both familiar and unexpected, having previously seen the way Turgeon likes to be twisty in both GODMOTHER and MERMAID.  Fans of either books will be pleased with FAIREST OF THEM ALL.  There's even more to savor this time around, because there's so much motivation.  I love the backstory of a villain as much as the next person, but I never envisioned a villain who was formerly a heroine, craving nothing more than her own Happily Ever After.  And the way destiny is ultimately shaped works in a fashion similar to MERMAID in the fact that it's a mesh of both the original fairy tale and a deviation of the author's own imagination.  We understand so much about the woman destined to become Snow White's Stepmother, see what makes her tick, why she thinks and feels the way she does.  Most of all, we emphasize with her, root for her, sympathize as we watch her heart break. And that's really all I can say about FAIREST OF THEM ALL without giving too much away!