If you enjoy fairy tales with a twist or science fiction series, then you are in for a real treat with The Lunar Chronicles. The series includes Fairest, Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, and Stars Above. Marissa Meyer is clever in her retelling of classic fairy tale stories and giving the main characters, like the evil Queen Levana, a sci-fi edge.
Fairest in the prequel to the series and I believe was published after the first four. I was a little confused as to the order of the books and only guessed to read Fairest first. I’m glad I did. The story opens with a nightmare that Levana has the morning of her parents’ funeral. The reader can only suppose that the nightmare comes from some terrible experience, and has to wait until the last chapter of the book to find out. Levana’s story quickly reveals how manipulative and cruel she can be, but her older sister, Channary, takes the prize in that category. Their parents were the reining King and Queen of Luna; with their brutal murder, Channary assumes the throne and Levana tries to cope with her sister’s callous reign over her and the rest of the court.
Channary discovers Levana’s crush on the handsome and married royal guard. Levana can’t bear the thought of living without him. So, she takes on the “glamour” of his deceased wife, manipulates his mind into “loving” her, and even pretends to love his daughter, Winter. She prefers to think of her manipulations as showing him how much she cares and that she is the right one for him anyway. He will come to think that on his own once he is done mourning his wife, right? Channary taunts Levana mercilessly over this, making Levana an emotional mess at times. But Channary’s cruelty toward Levana is not new to her, as the reader is about to find out.
After Channary gives birth to a girl, Selene, the next heir to the Luna throne, she contracts a fatal illness. Levana becomes Queen Regent; Luna laws state that Princess Selene will take the throne when she turns thirteen. However, there is a terrible fire in Selene’s playroom and she is pronounced dead moments after help can arrive. Her burnt 11-year old body is whisked out of the castle and out of Levana’s way. Levana is now free to rule Luna. It’s what is best for Luna, right?
But where should her power stop? Surely not just on Luna.
What about Earth? I’ll have to find out in the following books.
“Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?
Come close and I shall tell you a tale – My Queen’s dark secrets I’ve longed to unveil. Her greed may have led her to steal and to kill, while her wickedness drove her to break a man’s will, but the greatest tragedy I’ve yet to expose is the did it all for love…so our story goes. Should my portrayal of the Queen you ever wish to deny, know that I’m naught, but a mirror. I cannot lie.”