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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine. Though it was the fifth book published in "The Lunar Chronicles" series, it is a prequel to the first book in the serie.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Levana is a 15-year-old, newly orphaned princess of Luna, a colony on Earth’s moon. Levana’s parents, King Marrok and Queen Jannali, were murdered in their sleep by a “shell,” a Lunar born with no bioelectric abilities. On the morning of her parents’ memorial service, Levana wakes up from a nightmare and childhood memory of her beautiful yet cruel older sister, Channary, maliciously pushing her into the fire, which left her horribly deformed. Levana is particularly skilled at using her bioelectrical ability to create glamours (a projection of the image of herself that she wants others to see) and wears them continuously to hide her deformities.

Neither Levana nor Channary feel sorrow over their parents’ death. At the service, Levana gets nervous as she sees Sir Evret Hale, a royal guard whom she has been infatuated with for years. Evret is 10 years older than she is, but he has always been nice to Levana. He introduces her to his very pregnant and beautiful wife, Solstice, a local seamstress. Levana is crushed and jealous when she sees how protective and affectionate Evret is with his wife.

A few weeks later, on Levana’s 16th birthday, Evret has another guard give her a pendant in the shape of the Earth. Levana is giddy with excitement as she reads the note from both Evret and Solstice, but she rips off Solstice’s name, pretending the gift was from Evret alone.

As queen, Channary is a poor ruler. She is more interested in having numerous sexual relationships with guards and men in the court than she is with ruling. The Luna royal council proposes the idea of producing and introducing the leutmosis virus to Earth, and Levana is excited about the idea of waging biological warfare in order to secure a better bargaining position with the planet. While Channary does not see the potential of the virus, Levana does.

Solstice dies after giving birth to a daughter, Winter, and Levana begins to fantasize that the death was fated, that Evret will immediately fall in love with her and that they will be a family. Hours after his wife’s death, she makes a pass at Evret, but he rebuffs her. She thinks he just needs more time.

A few weeks later, Evret returns to work in the palace, and Levana reveals her feelings to him. Evret tells her that he thinks of her as a friend and princess, nothing more. She uses her glamour to look like Solstice and uses her bioelectrical ability to trick and control Evret. He kisses her and is manipulated to think he has feelings for her, but the mind control only lasts for a short time. Afterward, he is horrified. Levana is only 16 and is royalty. Evret could be killed for having this relationship with her. Evret begs Levana to stop manipulating his mind and wearing his dead wife’s face, but she is convinced that he will eventually fall in love with her. She continues, manipulating him into kisses and eventually into sex.

Evret is appalled when he wakes up the morning after they consummate their relationship, but Levana asks him to marry her. Resigned and feeling as if he has no other choice, Evret agrees, and the two are wed.

Channary is outraged that Levana would marry a lowly guard and tells her that she is a fool. Channary also proudly announces that she is pregnant and has no idea who the father is, which according to her, is as it should be. Evret refuses to resign from his job as a palace guard after the marriage.

While Levana dreamed of being a capable mother to Winter, she has no natural aptitude for it, and she fails to get pregnant with a child of her own. She gets increasingly jealous at seeing Channary, such a cruel sister, bloom with pregnancy. Once Princess Selene is born, Channary proves to be a loving and doting mother.

Levana thinks about killing the infant, but after Channary gets sick and dies, Levana is appointed queen regent to rule in Selene’s place until she turns 13. Levana thrives on ruling and makes decisions that greatly advance Luna’s productivity — all at the expense of her people, whom she rules with an iron fist.

Levana revels in her role as queen and dreads turning the throne over to Selene. She daydreams about murdering the toddler, and those thoughts eventually become a plan. Levana hires a new nanny for the 3-year-old princess and uses her ability to manipulate the young woman into falling asleep in Selene’s nursery with a lit candle under the blankets. She takes Winter to a doctor’s appointment and waits to get the news that the palace nursery is on fire. When two bodies are reportedly found in the debris, Levana thinks her plans have succeeded, but rumors begin to circulate that Selene somehow survived the fire and was smuggled off Luna.

As Levana settles into her role as queen of Luna, Evret and Winter grow closer to another guard, Garrison Clay, and his family. Winter and their son, Jacin, are best friends. As much as Evret tries to encourage Levana to just relax and enjoy time with the family, she refuses, remaining aloof and cold to others, jealous of the attention Evret showers on Winter.

As Winter grows older, she grows more beautiful. While members of the royal court had mocked the idea of any of them marrying a princess who was merely a guard’s daughter, moods change as it becomes obvious that Winter would grow up to be a stunning woman. Levana had planned to use Winter’s beauty to secure a marriage alliance with Earth, but as whispers start circulating that Winter would be even more beautiful than Levana herself, the queen grows more angry and resentful.

As much as Levana loves Evret, she realizes that he has never felt the same way about her. During an argument, she discovers that the pendant given to her on her 16th birthday was really a gift from Solstice, who felt pity for the young princess who had no friends. After she questions him, he admits that he only married her because he felt he had no other choice. If he refused, she would have him killed, and there would be no one to take care of Winter. He tells her that she has always held all the power over him and that he will never fall in love with her. He doesn’t even know what she looks like.

After 10 years of marriage, Levana still wears a glamour of Solstice. Levana is scared, but she drops the glamour and reveals her true self to Evret. He is speechless and horrified as he sees just how disfigured she really is. As a result of the fire Channary pushed her into as a child, parts of Levana’s body are heavily scarred and paralyzed, her left eye is sealed shut and chunks of her hair are missing and can never grow back. Levana asks him if he is happy to see the real her, and he tells her no, that maybe things would have been different if she had been open with him from the beginning. She tells him she has always loved him and leaves his room.

Levana realizes that her fantasy of a happy marriage and family are false, and she is heartbroken. She finds a mirror and looks at her true self for the first time in years. When the doctors saved her life as a child, she was told she needed extensive surgeries once she was older, but the glamour worked so well that Levana and everyone else forgot what she really looked like underneath. Levana shatters the mirror, pulls a sheer drape over her head and orders all the mirrors in the kingdom to be destroyed. Mirrors don’t reflect glamour. She also commissions special glass that holds no reflection to replace every glass surface in the palace.

Levana decides that Luna needs an alliance with Earth to get resources, an alliance through a marriage with the newly widowed Emperor Rikan. In order to remarry, she must get rid of her current husband.

After arranging for his assassination, Levana uses her mind control ability to seduce Evret one last time. Afterward, as he sleeps, a retired head thaumaturge, Joshua Haddon, breaks into the room and fatally shoots Evret. Levana promised Haddon that she would marry him if he killed her husband. Instead, she stabs Haddon to death as was her real plan all along. Evret, not knowing his wife was responsible, thinks that he stopped an assassination attempt on her life, and his last request is for her to protect and take care of Winter.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

None

Authority Roles

Levana feels no sorrow over her parents’ death, as she doesn’t think either of them would be upset if the assassin had killed her instead. She remembers her mother being annoyed at the presence of her own children.

Channary is emotionally and physically abusive to her younger sister. As children, Channary purposely pushed her into a fire and used her bioelectrical ability to hold Levana there as she burned. She is the only one that recognizes Levana through the glamour and mocks her for using them. Levana hates Channary. She thinks her older sister does not deserve to be queen and will squander every opportunity to make Luna greater.

After their parents die, Channary doesn’t spend much time with her younger sister or take her role of queen very seriously. Instead, she spends her time pursuing suitors. Despite being a cruel sister and ruler, Channary is a doting, loving mother to Selene. Levana is baffled by this.

Evret loved his wife Solstice and loves his daughter, Winter. Ten years after his marriage to Levana, he reveals that he agreed to the marriage to stay alive for his daughter. His dying wish is for Levana to protect and take care of Winter.

Profanity/Violence

Name-calling includes the word stupid. Stars is used as a swear word.

The book mentions how an assassin shot two royal guards in the head, went to the royal bedrooms and killed three more guards before slitting the queen’s throat and severing her spine. He then went down the hallway to the king’s bedroom where he stabbed him 16 times in the chest, leaving the king’s mistress screaming and covered in blood.

Channary backhands Levana in the face, causing the younger princess to fall and lose control of her glamour. Channary also has her seamstress’s feet surgically removed so the woman would have no choice but to make new dresses for her full time. Channary drinks from two glasses at a party and throws the glasses onto the dance floor, one of them hitting a man in the eye.

Levana plots the assassination of her 3-year-old niece and brain washes a nanny into setting the toddler’s nursery on fire. Two badly burned bodies are found in the debris. While the nanny dies, Selene survives the fire and is secretly smuggled to Earth.

Evret is shot multiple times, and his blood is described. The violence portrayed in Fairest is graphic. Blood is depicted throughout the book, mostly during assassinations.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

King Marrok is assassinated while sleeping beside his mistress. Channary tells Levana that being a queen is a right that comes with an endless supply of men, servants and dresses. She suggestively tells Levana that perhaps she will faint at their parents’ memorial service and require one of the new, young, obliging guards to carry her somewhere dark and quiet to recover.

Fifteen-year-old Levana has a crush on Sir Evret Hale, a royal guard who is 10 years older. She becomes extremely jealous when she learns that he is happily married. She wears a glamour in the likeness of his wife, Solstice, and fantasizes about him returning her affections.

At Levana’s 16th birthday party, an illusionist blows out a candle and then arranges the black smoke to become the shape of entangled lovers. Channary smiles flirtatiously with the illusionist, and Levana guesses the man will warm her sister’s bed that night. Levana becomes more embarrassed because Evret was in the room seeing the same suggestive show and possibly thinking of his own relations with his wife.

The first time Levana impersonates Solstice, Channary sees through the glamour, lying to Levana that she had sex with Evret to get the younger princess to lose her composure and stop the pretense.

Channary tells Levana that she has had relations with countless palace guards over the years, but she has never been monogamous. She says a lady must have three “toys” at once: one to romance her, another to bed her and a third to buy her expensive jewelry. She tells Levana that she has been unsuccessfully pursuing a man, Constable Dubrovsky, who Levana believes to be gay. Dubrovsky is seen dancing with another man at a ball. Channary is unconcerned. She sees him as a challenge and pursues him as a game. Levana suggests brainwashing the man into wanting her, but Channary doesn’t want to win that way. She wants to be remembered as Luna’s most desirable queen.

After Solstice dies during childbirth, the now 16-year-old Levana uses her bioelectric ability to manipulate Evret into kissing her and eventually having sex with her. When they consummate their relationship, Evret wakes up the next morning and sees blood on the sheets. After they marry, Levana unsuccessfully tries to get pregnant. Once Evret sees her without the glamour, she has to manipulate him into having sex with her again.

Channary gets pregnant without knowing or caring who the father of her child is. She eventually gets sick and dies from regolith poisoning, which Levana suspects she contracted from frequently meeting with men in Luna’s regolith caves.

Levana and Channary discuss arranging a marriage between Kai and Selene, or assassinating the empress so Channary can marry Emperor Rikan. After Selene’s birth, Channary complains that nothing in her closet fits, and it will only get worse if she gets pregnant again.

After shooting Evret, Haddon looks at Levana’s glamoured body with lust, ready to claim her as she had promised he could. She stabs him to death instead.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Drinking: Channary consumes several alcoholic drinks at a party.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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