Meyer takes a short break between books in the Lunar Chronicles to explore the back story of evil Queen Levana.
As the title suggests, here Meyer riffs on “Snow White,” positioning Levana as the wicked queen. As the novel opens, Princess Levana and her older sister prepare for the funeral of their assassinated parents. Levana chafes at the knowledge that her sister will take the throne—Levana is intelligent and politically engaged, while her lovely sister seems interested only in sexual conquest. The 15-year-old princess also yearns for kind, handsome guard Evret Hayle, who is unaccountably in love with his beautiful, pregnant wife. Physical beauty is something the scarred princess can achieve only by casting a Lunar glamour; fortunately, she is very skilled in the art. She is so adept, in fact, that she uses it to lure Evret to her bed and to the altar when his wife dies in childbirth; the only blot on her happiness is baby Winter, her stepdaughter—and her sister, and the Moon’s dwindling resources….With this book, Meyer sets herself a formidable challenge. Her overall story and the original fairy tale’s structure both demand that Levana end the book thoroughly evil, creating a deterministic, negative character arc. Although she strives to make Levana initially sympathetic, she must also plant the seeds of her cruelty and megalomania; the result is that Levana goes from merely bratty to out-and-out repellent. The author also deprives herself of the opportunity to play to her strengths: quick, cinematic changes in scene and chemistry between her characters. With virtually no action and no sparks flying, the plot slogs along to an end readers know already, leaving them free to notice Meyer’s malapropisms, grammatical errors and awkward metaphors.
Fans should just wait for Winter, coming in fall 2015. (Science fiction/fairy tale. 13 & up)