The Evil Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil, # 1)
By: Gena Showalter
Publication: June 25th 2019 by Inkyard Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.
Goodreads description--WELCOME TO THE FOREST OF GOOD AND EVIL.
A DREAM COME TRUE…AND A LIVING NIGHTMARE.
Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.
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.
Look. See… What will one peek hurt?
Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.
With powers beyond her imagination or control, Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed. As the prophecy unfolds, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?
The battle between good and evil is on.
My friend, Lacy, recommended The Evil Queen to me. And I'll be honest, I never do this, but I didn't even read the book description before I purchased it and requested book 2, The Glass Queen. Excited to jump into something that was recommended, I started The Evil Queen immediately. And I began to wonder if I'd made a mistake.
The book starts with a prologue where the Evil Queen is attempting to kill Snow White. The scene is a good bit different from what I expected all the while falling into the fairy tale. The scene is told from the perspective of the Evil Queen. While I find the idea of a book from the villain's perspective showing how they could easily have been the hero intriguing, I've never found a story that executed this idea in a way that I found I could actually root for the character. When Chapter 1 switched to modern-day mortal world, I really began to question whether I would end up liking this book even a little.
Thankfully we don't spend a lot of time in the mortal world and the story immediately began to pick up once Everly made it to Enchantia. Everly has unmistakable connections with the Evil Queen. She has an affinity for mirrors, being able to see and watch others within them. Other people seem to fear her immediately. And she does feel satisfaction when hurting those who have hurt her or her loved ones. But she also deep down wants so badly to be good. She doesn't want to be evil. She doesn't want to die. And what's worse, she has an undeniable attraction and connection to who she believes is Prince Charming. But we can't forget the prologue where not only the title of Evil Queen is used as well as Everly's name.
Almost all of the actual events of this story seem off-limits due to potential spoilers. There's so much happening and the reader is left questioning everything. Who is who in the fairy tale? Could some of the characters be pegged incorrectly? Does knowing which character is which mean the outcome of the fairy tale is set in stone or can it be influenced or changed? Which pieces will be symbolic and which will be literal? Can a character play two roles? Can a character show an affinity for one character so strongly but actually turn out to be a different character altogether? All of these questions and more ran through my head through this reading process.
Also since I can't discuss much with specifics, I will say that most of the main characters in this story had the emotional maturity level of my toddlers. Easily hurt and offended. Ready to write each other off permanently. Retaliate for every small infraction against themselves. Envy each other. And refuse to listen to anyone else. These were the things that frustrated me the most.
Favorite quotes...a lot of them:
-Evil never came dressed as a devil; evil came disguised as a dream, as tempting as the shiny red apples they’d once consumed.
-“Every hero is a villain, and every villain is a hero. It just depends on who you ask.”
-And people, well, they would always put themselves first, no matter how many others got hurt in the process.
-...lies were the language of villains, and truth was the language of heroes.
-One drop of poison will kill her strongest foe... and the last remnant of goodness that burns in her heart. For she had forgotten a simple truth. Character meant more than beauty, always.
-All my life I’d heard a million variations of evil is this, and evil is that. The one I’d internalized: evil is knowing what’s right and doing what’s wrong anyway.
-“Evil wears many faces. Today it wore yours, eh?”
-“Well, you know how wounded animals growl and snap at anyone who approaches? I’ve noticed the same behavior in humans. People who hurt deep inside often lash out at others, creating a toxic cycle. I just want to love them and help them heal.” Or maybe they used their internal hurts as an excuse?
-“When you do not work for answers, you dismiss the truth.”
-In life, there are risks you must take... and desires you should not slake.
-“I want to look at a girl and know she’s mine and mine alone. That I am hers. That we belong to each other, body and soul. I want the world to stop when we’re together. I want to dream about her at night and wake for her every morning. I want to put her first, and know she does the same for me. I want... everything.”
-“Someone who isn’t afraid of me. Who sees worth in me and accepts me just as I am. Someone who is proud of me, never ashamed.” I knew I was revealing too much, my internal armor being stripped away, piece by piece, but I couldn’t stop. “I want someone who would rather die than hurt me. But he won’t die. He’s too strong.”
-If a warning sounds deep in your soul, pay it heed or pay the toll.
-“My mother told me about the Enchantian version of divorce. Namely, the beheading of a wife who doesn’t conceive during the first year of marriage.” “A barbaric law,” he said. “I want it changed. How do I go about it?” Did I need to present any amendments to any groups? “You tell me what you want the law to be, and I have papers printed to distribute to your citizens.” “Excellent. From now on, a husband may be beheaded if he fails to please his wife.”
An example of the hypocrisy of these characters and "hurt me and I'll hurt you" mentality that permeates the story.
-If you won’t trust your heart more than prophecy, you are the one who fulfills it, Roth, not me.”
-The taste of vengeance is foul, not sweet. If only you hadn’t believed the deceit.
-Emotions were fleeting and always subject to change; they led you astray.
Boy isn't that last one the truth. We live in a culture that almost idolizes our emotions. We are proud of them. We parade them around. We make huge life decisions off of them. And not that we should ignore them. But emotions are definitely fickle things. I certainly have witnessed my own swing quite wildly. If you've never changed how you feel about a topic or situation then I'd venture to say you're not examining anything deeply enough.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was able to connect to the story and to Everly given how the book started. The questions I mentioned earlier drove me forward. And my biggest question of all was whether Everly and Roth would find a happily ever after or were they destined for heartbreak. I can't say The Evil Queen was without faults. I hated the characters' emotional maturity levels all around. Hartly was the only character that had a firm hold on maturity. The gay couple (I can't say who because of spoilers) was frustrating for me because I feel like you can't have a modern-day book without forced "diversity" yet in this one instance I didn't mind so much because it gave an added and unexpected twist to the fairy tale. The Evil Queen gets 4 Stars. Have you read The Evil Queen? What did you think? Let me know!
This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.