Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real-life fairy-tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
The Evil Queen
Series: The Forest of Good and Evil #1
Author: Gena Showalter
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Page Count: 544
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Retelling
Cover Artist: -
My Rating: ★1/2
I received a copy of this book via the publisher, Inkyard Press, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: Abduction, Adult Sexual Content, Death, Murder, Gore, Physical Abuse, Forced Marriage, Death of a parent & other relatives
Who will survive, and who will fall?
Who will shatter like a porcelain doll?
If you hadn’t gleaned that I like to read fairy-tale retellings from my “Read” shelf on Goodreads, then I’ll tell you that I like to read fairy-tale retellings. What intrigued me most about The Evil Queen before picking it up was that it was situated from the perspective of a character less traversed in the Snow White story. The Evil Queen herself, has always been an enigma in a way, for me. Truly, she couldn’t only be driven by her conquests for beauty, could she? I was curious to read a different perspective on the Evil Queen to possibly understand more of her character. I was surprised that Everly, the character depicting the Evil Queen in this retelling, was driven by more than just looks. In fact, she doesn’t give much, if any, thought to looks as the motivation for her actions. Everly is surprisingly confident in her appearance. Her kryptonite is her desire to be accepted by others, and loved for who she is.
Hartly is summer, warm and inviting. Others can bask in her light, then walk away with a smile. Everly is winter, cold and driven. She’s fun, but she’s treacherous, too. Rouse her fury, and you will suffer.
Everly has always been the sister that others have steered clear from. Surprisingly, the admiration and attention that Hartly, Everly’s sister, receives doesn’t make Everly jealous. If anything, her love for her sister and mother is very strong. When she finds out the truth about her family, however, Everly sets out to search for her blood family–and their acceptance. Believing that her birth mother will love her by default, Everly anticipates their reunion. Along the way, she uncovers a truth about herself that makes her desire to be loved all the more complicated. Understanding that many won’t accept her because of what she is, she begins to address the divide between good and evil within her.
Evil never came dressed as a devil; evil came disguised as a dream, as tempting as the shiny red apples they’d once consumed.
Everly exploring the “evil” within her is where one of my biggest issues with this book arises. From what she shows throughout the first half of this book, Everly doesn’t have an evil nature. Sure, she’s cold, but not without compassion, loyalty, or feelings. She harbors her feelings, and is cautious in general. These traits do not make someone inherently evil. When a person is truly evil, they only care about themselves and are downright wicked.
When Everly begins to entertain “evil” thoughts, they are presented in a way that is unnatural and forced. This aspect in The Evil Queen is very comparable to how I felt about the antagonizing force The Cruel Prince relies on to concoct some form of issue for the plot. Likewise, a “problem” doesn’t naturally arise in The Evil Queen. In this case, Everly’s true “evilness” is that problem. I’m definitely not rooting for an evil character. But, I think if a character is supposed to be what they say they are, then they should reflect that. Everyone has good and bad in them, and the power to choose what they will be. The fact that Everly thinks about the repercussions of her choices, doesn’t make her a villain. Everly represents more of an antihero than a true villain. Actual character development, towards good or evil, really did not exist.
Some readers may find no issue with this type of story-building and characterization. In all honesty, a lot of YA writing is morphing into this style of uninspired and uninspiring writing. I personally found myself trudging through this story, hoping to find something that would actually justify Everly’s intentions of becoming “evil,” and to discover what on earth this book has to offer the reader. Everly contradicts herself a lot, as she entertains the idea of being the Evil Queen, yet continually has compassion and regard for others. It’s an odd story that tries to make the Evil Queen into a victim/antihero, rather than following the character arc within the original fairy-tale.
I had a love-hate relationship with the writing of this book. Let me rephrase that; I mostly hated the writing. I had a few moments of appreciation for a well-written allegorical phrase. Seeing how this is a fantasy, I was expecting the characters, world-building, and plot development to mimic elements familiar to a fantasy story. This book read exactly like a contemporary book, and focused mostly on the relationship between Everly and Roth. It wasted nearly three-hundred pages with the characters running around in the forest, to only minimally add the overall plot.
This is my first time reading a book by this author. Quite frankly, she writes in genres that I don’t readily pick up due to my general dislike of the way the majority of contemporary books are written. The voice mimics an incredibly shackled version of the English language, and left me feeling entirely underwhelmed and numb. This is not to knock the author, by any means. However, I find it difficult to believe this story (which, in my opinion, is necessary in fantasy writing) due to the contemporary voice. The vernacular makes the characters come across as very childish, and threw me directly back into my years of grade school. For example:
Maybe he crushed on Snow White before she died. I mean, the fairy tale didn’t specify when he first beheld the girl, only that he saw her lying inside a glass coffin and he had to get him a little some-some of that.
Not to mention, THE. OVERUSE. OF. THIS. TYPE. OF. START. STOP. WRITING. DROVE. ME. BONKERS. Yes, it’s everywhere.
The writing style and character depiction were the main pitfalls for The Evil Queen. Overall, I was very unimpressed with The Evil Queen. The fact that a nearly six-hundred page book has literally no meaning whatsoever, unfortunately made it a purposeless read for me.
Sexual content: There are a few intimate scenes that I wouldn’t deem appropriate for many young readers.
Violence: Moderate. The most upsetting included a scene where trolls were eating a human alive.
My Rating: ★1/2
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