by Gail Carson Levine
352 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by White Rose

Wonderful story, beautifully written.


Aza was abandoned as a baby at the Featherbed Inn in the Ayorthian village of Amonta, where the inn keeper and his wife adopted her. Aza's singing voice is amazing, but she is ugly. She longs to be beautiful, to no longer be the subject of people's rudeness.

When Aza is asked to accompany a duchess to the king's wedding, she has no idea the changes in her life this will bring. Aza befriends the prince, becomes a lady in waiting to the new queen, and finds a magic mirror is no one's friend.


Queen Ivi is very vain and, under the influence of an evil adviser, becomes rather cruel in the way she handles her subjects. Ivi threatens Aza to do her biding, at times, causing Aza to lie in order to save her life. Ivi has little problem attempting to kill Aza. The good characters act morally appropriate, though, and the evil are dealt with.

Spiritual Content

Aza, in her search to gain beauty, tries some beauty spells, that only end in disaster. There are beauty and disguise potions used, as well as a magic mirror.


A heavy metal ring is thrown and accidentally hits the king in the head, causing injury. Queen Ivi slaps Aza across the face once. Aza is thrown in prison, and punches the guards to try escaping from them. A disguised Queen Ivi tries to kill Aza with a poisoned apple.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Mead is handed around for a toast at the end of a Sing.

Sexual Content

Some kissing, but nothing inappropriate. There is mention of Aza and some gnome women being naked when they are bathing at a gnome women's bath house, but nothing explicit.

Crude or Profane Language or Content



Another masterpiece by Levine, this time her twist on the story of Snow White, and a companion to her novel "Ella Enchanted". It's entertaining, and beautiful. You can't help feeling sorry for the ugly Aza through her trials, and her joy at winning the prince's friendship. The various songs in the book have lovely lyrics. It is another wonderful pick for the fairy tale lovers of the world.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 11-12

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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