The following review was originally published at Merikthorne Library, on December 8th, 2016.
I really enjoyed Ella Enchanted, so I had rather high expectations for Fairest. Though the beginning and end were both rather slow, Gail's tasteful writing and curious plot in between helped to make up for it. I greatly admire how Gail can so boldly weave unique cultures and intricate languages into her stories!
The characters, I had a hard time coping with. Aza's battle with discovering inner beauty was certainly relate-able, but I didn't feel like she truly struggled with it -- at least enough to make me empathize much with her.
I also felt no connection to Ijori, Ivi, Areida, or many of the main characters; the character I enjoyed the most was probably zhamH. (Random comment: Gnome Caverns sound like so much fun!)
The setting was good, but I rather wish there had been more description. As interesting as Ayortha's musical culture was, it wasn't enough to make me fall in love with the kingdom.
I do think I'd recommend this book, though likely more so after one's read Ella Enchanted, so they'd have a better knowledge of the setting. Fairest makes for a fun little read, and would probably be enjoyed most by pre-teen girls. :)
You may want to know: There is kissing and mild fantasy violence, along with some magical elements.