Book Review: Whatever After – Fairest Of All

By Sarah Mlynowski

Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall…

The Blurb

Once upon a time, my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White’s fairy tale. 

I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. 

But hey — we’re heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn’t die, she won’t get to meet her prince. And then she won’t get her happy ending. Oops. 

Now it’s up to us to:

  • Avoid getting poisoned
  • Sneak into a castle
  • Fix Snow White’s story
  • And then, fingers crossed, find our way home.

The Story

Sarah Mlynowski sends sister and brother team Abby and Jonah into the middle of our favourite fairy tales in her Whatever After series. But no damsel spends very long waiting for her knight in shining armour once Abby and Jonah show up. Mlynowski manages to pay homage to the classic fables but still adds a modern twist.

In Fairest of All, Abby and Jonah navigate and change the storyline just enough to make it their own. Ten-year-old Abby and her 7-year-old brother, Jonah, have just moved to a new city called Smithville and Abby is having trouble fitting in. One night, her brother drags her down to the basement with reports of something strange going on with the old mirror and, when Abby goes to investigate, they are pulled inside!

They find themselves in a forest and follow an old woman to a cottage. The old woman knocks on the door, but the frightened teenage girl inside doesn’t want to let her in. Abby and Jonah send her packing.

“Abby and Jonah navigate and change the storyline just enough to make it their own.”

The nervous teen lets Abby and Jonah inside, where they quickly realise who she is; Snow White. But…oops! They’ve just saved Snow from the poison apple. Will she still get her happy ending with the prince?

What follows is a fun, exciting adventure where Abby and Jonah do their best to set this fairy tale to rights so they can find their way home.

My Thoughts

This is a super fun story to read. Abby is one of the funniest and snarkiest characters in a tween novel. She is freshly captivating and clever; her voice is spot on. I read this to my daughter at bedtime and we had difficulty putting it down. Mlynowski has an enviable gift for giving her characters unique voices – I fell in love with Abby as soon as we were introduced. In fact, I had to do a little research after our first read to see whether or not this was Abby and Jonah’s first adventure; the characters were so well developed it felt like jumping in mid series.

“Mlynowski has an enviable gift for giving her characters unique voices.”

The book refreshes the old Snow White fairy tale. The old fable is a wonderful story but, overall, not a story we want our girls to live their lives by. Whatever After manages to stay true to the old tale while bringing a modern twist to the story. Not only does Snow White end up rescuing the prince, but when asked for her hand in marriage, she says she’s not looking for a serious relationship yet. She needs to focus on her queenly duties, and she is only 16. They decide to take things slowly. Good idea, Snow.

Whatever After offers a fresh, funny, empowering rewrite of the fabled tales young readers (and parents!) love.

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