Fairest is a prequel novella in The Lunar Chronicles and tells the story of Levana, what she was like as a teenager and how she became Queen of Lunar and the villain we know her to be from reading the series.
I’d definitely say if you’re going to read Fairest, read it after Cress as it deals with events and characters that are mentioned in the main series so you might get spoiled for some great moments in the series. Also you don’t really have to read Fairest to enjoy The Lunar Chronicles but it does add an extra layer of creepiness to Levana and makes her seem more interesting than this foreboding figure you’ve seen in the previous books.
In Fairest you see Levana commit these horrible acts that you’ve just seen mentions of before and it is sometimes really disturbing. You see how Levana was treated by her family and in some ways you can almost sympathise with her because her life is quite sad but then she does something that is incredibly weird and unsettling and it puts you right off her again. Her relationship with a palace guard is very disturbing and her infatuation with him is often uncomfortable to read, she believes what she feels to be true and she’s so disillusioned that it’s slightly terrifying.
Fairest is really a character study of Levana and how she became who we see in the series. You can see that in some ways she’d make a great Queen as she is interested in the running of the country but then she has a cruel streak that wouldn’t make her enamoured to the people. While it is mainly a character study, you do see the seeds of major plot points from the series planted in Fairest as the story starts about 18 years before the events in Cinder.
Fairest is a super quick read and it’s fascinating to see more of who Levana is and why she’s as messed up as she is. 4/5.