Jessi Sheron’s The Evil Queen is more than just a storybook of princesses, queens, kings, curses, and witches. It’s a story about love, beauty, jealousy, and overcoming one’s self-imposed short comings in the face of a world that only cares about beauty. It’s a story about power and those that believe they have the power to tell your story. The journey here is two-fold, both external and internal, as most fairy tales should be.
Sheron’s story of the Laviana begins where most Disney stories end: A beautiful princess is set free from a spell by a charming king, but a simple story like this, it turns out, isn’t what Sheron is interested in. What happens when the beautiful princess – now queen – begins to age, begins to lose the luster of youth? When all the attention drifts to a younger, more beautiful flower?
The Queen, now cold and full of hatred towards her step daughter, sets out on a path of magic to discover how to remain beautiful. It isn’t the magic that eats away at her, that is but a tool. Instead, it is the desire to remain superficially beautiful.
Sheron’s straightforward, storybook-style storytelling and artwork are perfect in that they simplify the narrative and allow you to follow the bare bones of the emotional and thematic journey of Laviana. Every twist and turn is natural, straightforward, and unexpected. The end is both happily ever after and sociologically bittersweet.
The design and artwork of the book are compelling; the color washes are there to do more than make things pretty but are an integral part of telling the story. This book is well thought out from beginning to end. The choice in words, placement of images – everything is well crafted, and it’s a joy to read. I like being surprised, and The Evil Queen did so with the most natural of efforts.