Levine, Gail Carson. 2006. Fairest.
Set in or near the same land as Ella Enchanted, Fairest is a revisioning of the classic fairy tale Snow White with some major differences. Aza is a young girl, perhaps an orphan or perhaps just an abandoned infant, left at the doorstep of an inn while she’s a baby. Her adoptive parents know nothing of her origins other than the fact that her blanket or clothing looked expensive or well-made. An ugly child, Aza outshines her brothers and sisters when it comes to singing. Fortunately, singing is one of the most important activities in the land. Well-loved, Aza is happy for the most part. Among friends and family, her appearance doesn’t matter. But some strangers at the inn make her feel embarassed and unworthy. Aza’s good fortune, however, is to befriend a duchess. It is her role as a duchess’ maid or companion that brings Aza to the castle for a royal wedding. The king of the land is marrying a much younger woman. Already in his forties or fifties, some are shocked that so young a bride--probably nineteen or twenty--is willing to leave her country and move to a foreign land. More shocking by far is the fact that this bride is a commoner. No one has seen her or heard her. Is she beautiful? And more importantly can she sing? Although she doesn’t know it, Aza’s fate is entwined with the new Queen. Will her adventure among the wealthy and elite and royal be something to treasure or regret?