Synopses & Reviews
What if Rapunzel was Snow White’s evil stepmother?
From the author of Godmother and Mermaid, The Fairest of Them All explores what happens when fairy tale heroines grow up and don’t live happily ever after.
Living in an enchanted forest, Rapunzel spends her days tending a mystical garden with her adoptive mother, Mathena. A witch, Mathena was banished from court because of her magic powers, though the women from the kingdom still seek her advice and herbal remedies. She waits, biding her time to exact revenge against those who betrayed her.
One day Rapunzel’s beautiful voice and long golden locks captivate a young prince hunting in the forest nearby. Overcome, he climbs her hair up to her chamber and they fall into each other’s arms. But their afternoon of passion is fleeting, and the prince must return to his kingdom, as he is betrothed to another.
Now king, he marries his intended to bring peace to his kingdom. They have a stunning daughter named Snow White. Yet the king is haunted by his memories of Rapunzel, and after the mysterious death of his wife, realizes he is free to marry the woman he never stopped longing for. In hopes of also replacing the mother of his beloved daughter, the king makes Rapunzel his queen.
But when Mathena’s wedding gift of an ancient mirror begins speaking to her, Rapunzel falls under its evil spell, and the king begins to realize that Rapunzel is not the beautiful, kind woman he dreamed of.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Turgeon...imaginatively combines murder, revenge, sex, magic, and other genre tropes into a dark and twisted fairy tale."
"Turgeon incorporates a sense of melancholy that adds an enormous amount of depth and sympathy....Rapunzel's...absolute devastation at a shocking discovery ring[s] true, adding a layer of realism to the magic-sparked tale. Lovers of fairy tales will enjoy Turgeon's fresh take on classic stories."
"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." Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters
"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."
Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"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."
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Is It Tomorrow
"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."
Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Solomon's Oak and Finding Casey
"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."
Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife
"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."
Alisa Kwitney/Sheckley, author of Token, Flirting in Cars, and Moonburn
"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."
Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Mapmaker's War
"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!"
M.J. Rose, author of The Reincarnationist
"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."
Jeanine Cummins, author of A Rip in Heaven
"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." Timothy Schaffert, author of The Coffins of Little Hope
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?
About 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.