Title: Fairest Son
Year: 2018 (republished with a new cover in 2020)
Author: H.S.J. Williams
Synopsis: The Fair and Foul courts of the fey folk have long yearned for one to bring them together in peace, but hopes are dashed when the fairest prince and the prophecy concerning him are laid to ruin. Burdened with shame and sorrow, the prince flees to the cold mountains far above the forests and lochs with nothing but animals and goblins for company.
When a human huntress stumbles upon him in her search for a legendary predator, their fates are intertwined. But she hides deadly secrets, and if he dares to trust her, he may risk the doom of both courts to an ancient evil…
A Retelling of Snow White.
Review: I’ve been hearing people rave about this book ever since it first came out. Being a fairytale retelling, it obviously had my attention, but somehow I just didn’t get around to reading it until now. Shame on me; I didn’t know what I was missing out on.
The Fair and Foul fey courts have been simmering in tensions and mistrust for far too long. The Loresman’s prophecy claims that the fairest son will finally unite them in peace, and Prince Idris is that fairest son. But before he can, he is ruined and flees in shame. How can he live in his father’s court of beauty when his own fey beauty has been taken from him?
Keeva has lived her whole life on her toes — hunting, running, and protecting herself. After hearing the legends of the fearsome Domhnal bear, she decides to hunt it for herself. A journey up the mountain brings her to Idris’s door, and the two begin an unlikely friendship. True, her visit with him is not without its mishaps, and he knows there are secrets she’s hiding from him. Keeva enjoys the time she spends with this mysterious, head-wrapped fey prince — and even the seven goblins who are his friends.
The twists on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves were phenomenal. I mean, first off, it’s GENDERSWAPPED, which is just amazing. Then we’ve got the fey courts and the Fair’s standards of beauty, which fit in PERFECTLY. Too many Snow White retellings that I’ve read don’t ever contain all three attempts that the Evil Queen makes on the fairest beauty — but we’ve got ALL THREE here: the stilled breath/corset, the poisoned comb, and the poisoned apple. The way the author tied all of those elements in were brilliant.
And the CHARACTERS. Idris was so flawed, so lovable, so PERFECT. I liked him right from the start, and I only liked him all the more as the book went on. I hated to see him maimed in such a way, but seeing him overcome all of that was just beautiful.
Keeva slowly grew on me. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much of her, but she really surprised me by the end. She fit so well in her role as the genderswapped huntress, and it was a lot of fun to see her grow and develop even in such a short story span.
I particularly liked the goblins. I think we tend to portray them too much nowadays as evil characters (Tolkien’s influence, no doubt), but it was fun getting to see them in a good, supporting role like this. Their abrupt manners and differing opinions on Keeva were hilarious.
To be honest, there was just so much to love about this book. I loved how unique it was, and yet so true to the original fairytale. I honestly don’t think I have anything to complain about. Only that the book was too short, and I’d love to see H.S.J. Williams do more with this world in other fairytales.
Advisory: Fantasy violence. A character is killed, some are injured, and another character is severely maimed (the actual process is not described, only the aftermath). A few scary creatures pop up within the pages. There is some fighting, as well as hunting descriptions (Keeva is a huntress, after all). I didn’t find it all overly dark, but it may be a bit much for the overly squeamish. Other than that, this book is very clean.
Light romance, which was pretty sweet.
Since I always do mention the magic in books that I review, I do have to say that there is magic in this as well. However, it is clearly fairytale/fey magic and used within those proper boundaries.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars