A few weeks ago, Lauren sent me an e-mail saying, essentially, "Hey, friend. Here's a copy of my new book. Would you like to do the blog tour again?" Since I had jumped at the chance to review anything and everything she wrote before, I squealed "IGOTLAUREN'SBOOOOOOOOOOK" like a fourth-grader to my roommate and she appropriately gasped in envy. Of course I said yes to the chance to do her blog tour. I also got to have the signing spot next to her at LDStorymakers Conference on Saturday (and heard a lot of "Oh, so you're NOT the same person?"). What is Hidden was the first book I ever blog-toured for and Lauren now stands with authors like Brandon Sanderson and Elizabeth Kostova, where I became a fan when they first started publishing and have followed their careers obsessively.
So, here we come to the third book in her series about The Chameleon. After leaving Venesia with the villain of the first book, Lauren brings us back to the palace for a Snow White-based fairy tale adaptation. Princess Bianca and Prince Aiden have discovered that the court is being poisoned. The most obvious evidence of this is in the form of their ailing parents, but also several attempts to bump the princess off. She turns to an old assassin to find the culprit and, as you might guess either from the opening sentence of this paragraph or my earlier interview, that is The Chameleon.
My friends laugh at me for my villain obsession. I'm fascinated by redemption arcs as much as the irredeemable characters. I absolutely get a thrill out of the fact that neither Palpatine nor Voldemort can "be a man and try for remorse." Lauren pointed out that one of her influences was Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender and I smacked myself for not having recognized it before. I read The Chameleon as a bit of a Vader, who (to quote myself) "had been a fool who did right in the end." That suggested that he had a moment of redemption that fixed the ending. But no, now that I know she drew the inspiration from the heir to the Fire Nation who went from being a bloodthirsty vigilante to a justice-seeker, I recognized that she had been setting up this characterization for a very long time. I mentioned in a previous review of her books that I love a mystery where I can tell the ending, but am satisfied with the road that leads there. This is absolutely true of The Fairest Poison.
Briefly leaving behind my villain-obsession, I loved changing perspectives from seeing the court through the eyes of a commoner/servant to seeing it from the position of power. There was a very effective character-building for Evie, the first book's narrator who has to face the transition from one perspective to the other. Using that character tied the reader into the world a lot more effectively than I would have originally guessed. This is only the second series ever where I've been an unabashed fan of changing the narrator from one book to the next.
So there you have it. If I haven't talked you into reading this series in its entirety, come talk to me. We'll have WORDS.
Or you could buy it here and make life easy on the both of us.