Tuesday, February 25, 2014


183660Author: Gail Carson Levine
Release Date: September 19th, 2006
PublisherHarper Collins
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Pages:  326

Summary (Goodreads):
In the kingdom of Ayortha, who is the fairest of them all? Certainly not Aza. She is thoroughly convinced that she is ugly. What she may lack in looks, though, she makes up for with a kind heart, and with something no one else has–a magical voice. Her vocal talents captivate all who hear them, and in Ontio Castle they attract the attention of a handsome prince – and a dangerous new queen. In this masterful novel filled with humour, adventure, romance, and song, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine invites you to join Aza as she discovers how exquisite she truly is.

This is one of my favorite fantasy/fairy tale books of all time, so I might be a little biased ;).

Needless to say, I LOVE this book.  It's just one of those books I never get tired of reading over and over again, and each time I fall in love with all the characters all over again.

Aza isn't your typical heroine.  She has a strength about her that's tinged with insecurity.  Aza has the most beautiful voice in the land (alto! Side note: I really love that she's an alto because it fits her personality, and most main heroines- well on stage that is- are soprano), but without beauty, that voice is almost worthless in Ayortha.  She is a very complex character, and the best way to describe her is that she's human.  She isn't just one thing.  She's kind-hearted, selfish, strong, weak, insecure, vain, humble, and confident.  I absolutely love her voice (speaking and singing!:));  I rarely comment on this because few voices in books stand out like hers.  Aza sounds very regal, which is an interesting contrast with different parts of her personality, and she is also wry in a subtle way.  (I only recently caught onto that dry, wry humor. :))

The prince is swoon-worthy with imperfections of his own.  (His big ears sound cute! ;) ) He too isn't just "one thing"; he has many sides- more swoony sides than not, but that's a judgment call. ;)  The author is wonderful at making each (and every) character  his or her own person. Even though this is a fairy-tale, as each character grows and changes and develops (even the "villains"), the author reminds us that everyone is human too.

The world building is one of the best I've seen in a standalone.  It's absolutely amazing, and every time I read it, I'm always sucked into this world.  All the songs are so pretty, and I always love to sing them out loud to my own tune. ;) (Plus, I love that cameo from Ella Enchanted! I won't mention who, but I think you can guess- this is set in Ayortha. ;) )

The heart of this book are its messages about beauty.  And it is true, no matter how cliche it may seem, that inner beauty is the only thing that counts.  People who truly love you love you for who you are and not for what you look like.

So I've finally managed to keep a review brief! Yay! I would love to gush more about this book, but my review will NEVER do it justice.  The feeling you get when see the gorgeous world the author creates and the characters you will treasure forever can only be fully brought to justice when you read the book. ;)

(PS: Remember- there is only one true villain.)

Thanks for reading!:)

Rating: 5 out of 5

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