Synopsis: 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.
A character is hit in the head, resulting in unconsciousness and blood. An ogress almost kills a lion. Aza turns herself to stone and her thumb falls off; she’s imprisoned and puts up a fight. A character throws a dagger to an ogre’s throat. There are mentions of assassination and execution.
The King’s bride is rumoured to be a flirt. Aza attends the wedding. A character contemplates a second husband (and flirts with her guards) while her first is still alive. Two characters kiss and hold hands- they sleep whilst doing so, quite innocent. Once engaged, they kiss several more times and is eventually married. (Which tends to happen when one is engaged).
Mention of drunks at a tavern. There are potions, mostly for beauty, and characters are poisoned (one poisons herself). Characters drink mead, wine.
The queen dissolves the people’s council, who retaliates. The queen imprisons ‘threats’. When the king is conscious, he banishes the queen and abdicates the throne to his son in an effort to prevent an ‘almost civil war’ from ever happening again.
Insults get as bad as hell cow.
A character ‘prayed’.
Overall feel: A story about an ‘ugly’, adventuress heroine who discovers the truth of beauty. This novel has some politics, some running-for-your-life action (amongst others) and hints of the Snow White. Aza came to the conclusion that “the pursuit of beauty had been disastrous.”