Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
Snow White but so much more. When I picked up this volume I was unaware of the ties to Ella Enchanted so I giggled maniacally when I came to mentions of Sir Peter of Frell and Areida. I love Ella but I feel like with Aza there is so much more like Levine simply stepped everthing up a notch. I think people tend to see fairy tales as having to be about the pretty princess getting the handsome prince and happily ever after, but personally I love fairytales because they can call into question what is beauty? What is friendship? What is love? What is happiness? And they ask these questions in a way that makes you see the story as if there was a fun house mirror but it has been taken away. Aza has a beautiful voice and a beautiful spirit but physically she is nothing to be admired. She gets swept away from the Inn of those who raised her to the castle and there meets the beautiful new queen who is her polar opposite, only attractive on the outside or so it seems. The prince has ears that are too big and a saucy hound by the name of Oochoo. In this tale of magic and mystery things are not hardly ever as they seem, they are never as they seem.