mp’s rating: 4/5
Perhaps you have watched Wicked, the untold story of the witches of Oz. Perhaps you know about what happened before Dorothy dropped in, perhaps you don’t. But for everyone to be the way they are, there must be some reasons behind it.
The same goes to the Wicked Queen in Snow White.
We have always known the Queen as someone who was cruel, unjust, and unloving. Yet only few know what really happened before Snow White sang her songs and met her Prince by the wishing well. Here is my attempt to summarise the beautiful, truly breathtaking and piercing book, on which I really recommend you all to read.
Fairest of All is the story of the Wicked Queen, who she was before she married the king, and who she longed to be before she was destroyed by her vanity and the need to murder her daughter Snow White. It is a bloody tale of abuse, heartbreak, love and grief, and the lure of a mysterious man in an enchanted mirror.
Long ago, there was a tale told countless times, not only to remind people that good always wins, but also to teach the young ones about the power of envy. She was a queen, loved by the king, praised by her people. Travelers went to see her beauty from far, for she is, without doubt, the fairest of all. She had a beautiful stepdaughter, the King’s late wife’s. The Queen loved her stepdaughter, and she loved the Queen back.
For a moment, everything was perfect.
But fate was cruel, and he took away the King before his time. People then said that the Queen, although physically alive, had died with him that day. She became insecure, for anger had engulfed her. She found comfort in knowing that she was the fairest of all, and through her magic mirror, she asked the one question every morning, “Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” And the mirror will answer, “You are, my Queen.”
Yet one day, Verona, a lady and a friend, the head of her servants, surpassed her beauty. She was young, full of joy and love, unlike the Queen who was bitter of her own life. And the Queen became jealous. She sent her to the neighbouring kingdom, where once again, she can be, the fairest of them all. But Verona fell in love with a Duke, got married, and came back to her kingdom. Not only that Verona had the beauty, but now she had a lover. And once again, the Queen envied her. The Queen made her an outcast – no longer can she take a step at the kingdom and be seen as a friend. And for some time, the Queen was again the fairest of all.
Time passed, and soon her stepdaughter’s beauty blossomed. Enraged, she tried to send some men to kill her, but failed. She tried to kill hew own stepdaughter then, with the help of the dark magic. The cost? She lost her sense. She turned into a fragile, old woman – ugly, unloved, wicked. Though the plan of killing her stepdaughter nearly succeed, she was then faced with the inevitable truth: there was no cure, no magic to turn her back into her normal self. Looking back, it was her own decision to choose the path to the cliff, knowing that in those last moments, she had chosen her path long ago – for her jealousy had killed her soul.
Below are the last paragraphs from the book, my favourite.
“The Queen considered her options. The forest – safety. A haven for her. A new chance at life.
But what kind of life? She thought back to the day she had met the King at the well. She remembered how warm his hands felt on hers – how she had never been touched that way before, how no one had ever loved her – ever. Her wedding day came to mind, the joy she had felt and that which emanated from every corner of the kingdom – nay, all the lands.
And then there was Snow White… Ah, she loved the child. She loved her as the daughter she was by right of marriage. So beautiful and pure. Such a precocious little one. A real beauty who loved the King and honored his memory by living life in full even after his death. Unlike the Queen who allowed treachery, pain, and vanity to destroy her. She remembered holding Snow when she told her the King had been killed… and the Apple Blossom Festival, and all those days with Verona, and all the picnics and breakfasts in the morning room.
The Queen had had so much promise within her – so much power to make the world better. But instead she allowed darkness to guide her, blind to any other way.
The Queen glanced at the cliff as the clouds battered her with rain and the sky whipped at her with lightning lashes. She looked up and she knew what she needed to do.
After all, she had chosen her path long ago.”