Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times-bestselling author, returns to the fairytale world with this haunting retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.
Long ago cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller's daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.
Or so everyone believes.
When one of Serilda's outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her… for a price. Love isn't meant to be part of the bargain.
Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.
About Marissa Meyer
Marissa Meyer is the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles, Heartless, The Renegades Trilogy, and Instant Karma, as well as the graphic novel duology Wires and Nerve. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University and a MA in Publishing from Pace University. In addition to writing, Marissa hosts The Happy Writer podcast. She lives near Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and twin daughters.
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
‘She would be queen, and queens… queens did not open bakeries with their best friends. Queens did not gossip with half-invisible cats. Queens did not have dreams of yellow-eyed boys and wake up with lemon trees over their beds.’
Catherine, the Queen of Hearts, before she became the crazed monarch of Wonderland,
was a girl with hopes and dreams of living a quiet life, making delicious foods, and happily loving someone that loves her just as much. Being the daughter of a Marquess though, the life she envisions for herself is far from what is expected of her. When the King of Hearts begins showing an interest in obtaining her hand, Catherine fears that she won’t be able to say no even if saying yes will banish her hopes and dreams permanently. But when the man with the yellow eyes from her dreams makes an appearance in her waking hours, she dares to hope for that unattainable future once again.
‘It had been a hazy, beautiful dream, and in it there had been a hazy, beautiful boy. He was dressed all in black and standing in an orchard of lemon trees, and she had the distinct sensation that he had something that belonged to her.’
We’re first introduced to this jubilant girl with a zest for life which is such a stark contrast to how we know her character turns out in the end. While we all know the inevitable outcome, I was most interested to see how she came to be. My initial concern with this story was simple: that she became this bitter, enraged woman solely because of a broken heart. I needed the reasoning behind her considerable transformation to have a little bit more substance. While there were some lagging sections near the middle of the story and some obscure mysteries that didn’t fully make sense until the end, I was actually quite pleased with the end result and felt that her drastic alteration in character ended up flowing well and wasn’t quite as drastic at first glance. The outcome, while expected, still made for an enticing story just to see how all the pieces fell into place.
Before this happens though, we’re taken through her tumultuous roller coaster of emotions where she’s discovering her growing love for one man whilst being forced into the marriage of another. It was all fairly devastating to witness and very Romeo & Juliet. She continuously found tranquility through her baking and the joy she had for her delicious concoctions was infectious and will leave you with many a craving.
‘This was why she enjoyed baking. A good dessert could make her feel like she’d created joy at the tips of her fingers. Suddenly, the people around the table were no longer strangers. They were friends and confidantes, and she was sharing with them her magic.’
The obstacle with retellings is that everyone knows the story yet you’re tasked with trying to come up with your own unique interpretation. Change things too much though and you’re no longer being faithful to the original tale. It’s a fine line between the two, but Meyer had the benefit of being able to create a backstory for this character from scratch. I can say with complete aplomb that her imaginative backstory felt authentic and suitable not just to the Queen of Hearts character but to the entire Wonderland world.
One to be a murderer, the other to be martyred, One to be a monarch, the other to go mad.
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this story from Feiwel & Friends and now would like to share it with one of my readers!
Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!
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In this stunning bridge book between CRESS and WINTER in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana's story is finally told.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her "glamour" to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
‘Levana had not seen the bodies, but she had seen the bedrooms the next morning, and her first thought was that all that blood would make for a very pretty rouge on her lips.’
Fairest opens on disaster from the very start with Princess Levana and her older sister Channary attending the funeral of her recently murdered parents. Channary being the older sister ascends the throne despite the fact that Levana would be the far superior ruler. It could be said that the beginning of Levana’s mental breakdown happened after a childhood tragedy left her scarred and disfigured. Levana became obsessed with physical beauty which she can only personally obtain by using her Lunar glamour to change how others see her. Whether this knowledge of her past allows you to forgive Levana her actions or not, her story is full of shocking revelations that will nonetheless change everything you thought you knew about her.
We all knew Levana was psychotic before we got her full story, but finally we find out why. We also find out that Levana wasn’t always this way, that particular circumstances set her on this path of madness and it’s far more sad than I ever would have expected. Taking us back to a time before Cinder even existed, Meyer gives us a spin on the story of the Wicked Queen from Snow White: the story of Levana and the path that led her who she became. I’m not sure what it says about me exactly, but this story of the villain we’ve all come to despise has been my absolute favorite installment in the series. What I found most impressive was how Meyers introduced Levana as a good character and in just 222 pages had her character arc come so far as to make her transformation to the Evil Queen one of complete authenticity. The focus on character development lessened the amount of ongoing action but it was still a moving story. Also, in terms of the plot originality we’ve come to expect from other installments, there was less variation from the original fairy tale but while the conclusion seemed far from unexpected it still managed to leave me astonished.
It’s always an exciting switch to be inside the mind of the villain and Meyer doesn’t disappoint. We may be more informed as far as Levana is concerned, but her methods of ruling are still drastic and often extreme yet having this knowledge of her will certainly have me looking at her with a closer eye when we see her again in Winter.
The third book in Marissa Meyer’s New York Times/USA Today-bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, inspired by Rapunzel.
In this third book in Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.
Picking up where Scarlet left off, we return to Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, and Iko all attempting to culminate a plan to stop Queen Levana before she marries Emperor Kai. Cress, imprisoned by Queen Levana on a satellite orbiting Earth, is an expert hacker and when she’s given orders to track down Cinder she does it with ease. Instead of turning this information over, she decides to help the group anyway she can. After a botched rescue attempt lands Cress and Thorne in the African desert and the rest of the group scattered, everyone has to survive long enough to find each other once again. The clock is quickly ticking down to the wedding that will give Queen Levana control of the universe unless Cinder can successfully stop her.
Scarlet shared page-time between Cinder and Scarlet’s storylines but with Cress we have even more storylines to follow not only with the addition of Cress as a character but because the group has been scattered. I really, really loved Cress’ storyline and how much it delved into her backstory and everything about her family and how she got to where she is was wonderfully done. There were some rather slow moments when Cress and Throne were plodding through the African desert that was a bit hard to get through but it helped us learn more about Cress and even a little it more about Thorne that really helped you to appreciate their characters even more. Scarlet wasn’t present as much as I would have liked but Meyer pushed her to the limit putting her on a nail-biting path that I believe will lead to her having a major role in the final installment, Winter.
This series continues to impress. I love the intricacies of the political system and the details of the ongoing strife, the evolution of the plague that lurks dangerously in the background and the fact that while these manage to be authentic and impressive you can still identify the well-known fairy tales these are built around. This penultimate installment will leave you waiting with bated breath for Winter, Meyer’s twist on the story of Snow White, the conclusion to this thrilling series.
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
From Cinder as cyborg Cinderella to Scarlet as Little Red Riding Hood (or hoodie, rather). Cinder has joined up with fellow inmate Thorne to bust out of prison in order to escape the wrath of Queen Levana. Scarlet is in search of her grandmother who has been missing for two weeks and the only one that seems to know anything is a guy who only goes by the name of “Wolf”.
I’ve always been a huge fan of fairytale retellings but the idea of steampunk/sci-fi/fairy tales blended together never inspired me to pick up these books and as more and more installments released the surer I was that these weren’t books I would ever enjoy. Not only do those same elements continue but the incorporation of multiple fairy tales all in one universe sounded like a big hot mess. I finally caved and read Cinder just to try to see what all the fuss was about… so. much. fun. I loved Cinder’s Cinderella story and all of the steampunk and sci-fi elements were done so, so well. But then came the end of Cinder’s tale and I was under the impression that the next story focused on an entirely different character which bummed me out so I didn’t end up picking it up immediately. Don’t make the same mistake I did because I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cinder gets plenty of page time. But also don’t be surprised if you manage to like Scarlet just as much if not more (serious, the girl even packs a gun for protection). That is hands down the best thing about these books and the main characters are that each of these female leads is imbued with some serious badass-ness that you can’t help but love.
The time spent on both Scarlet and Cinder’s stories was well-balanced and inevitably blended together rather seamlessly. The thing with fairy-tales and their re-tellings is you can’t help but not be surprised at the typical turn of events because we already know what’s going to happen. Meyer has managed to inject The Lunar Chronicles with an entertaining level of originality that continues to keep those pages turning. I have sky high expectations at this point and I won’t be wasting any time before picking up Cress.
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time”
In New Beijing, humans, androids, and cyborgs live amongst each other in a world ravaged by a plague called letumosis. Cinder became a cyborg at an early age after surviving a car crash that killed both her parents and now works as a mechanic to earn money for her self-absorbed and hateful adoptive mother. When her sister becomes sick and Cinder is blamed, her mother volunteers her for a medical testing group for cyborgs where the survival rate is non-existent. She inevitably stumbles upon information about her past that she had been unable to remember and it manages to turn her entire life upside down.
“A sci-fi retelling of Cinderella as a cyborg“. That blurb had me skeptical for years, avoiding this book and insisting it wasn’t going to be for me. And then I read Glitches, the short story prequel to Cinder and it convinced me to finally pick it up. Boy, am I glad I did. In retrospect, it still astounds me that a book with so many various genres still managed to work as well as it did. I mean it’s sci-fi, a retelling, sorta steampunk-ish, and even dystopian. AND Cinderella is a total badass and even a mechanic. It shouldn’t work in theory but it definitely does. The world was brilliantly drawn and I loved just how well the Cinderella story was incorporated.
Cinder’s perseverance made her an extremely likable heroine and the romance between her and Prince Kai was completely charming (plus no instalove here folks!). Her horrendous stepmother was par for the course for the original Cinderella tale but good grief, that woman was the very definition of awful. In Cinderella, the wicked stepmother made Cinderella stay home from the ball and clean the house. Oh, woe is her. But in Cinder, her wicked adoptive mother sold her to a medical testing group where not a single person has survived. Now THAT is wicked. Cinderella didn’t know how good she had it. Even though everyone knows the story of Cinderella, there were enough alterations done to this story to keep it suspenseful. The ending will leave you yearning for the next book, Scarlet, with the author tackling another well-known fairy tale: Little Red Riding Hood.