Beauty Queen (Whatever After #7) Review
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Unabridged Digital Audiobook
Runtime: 3 hours, 28 minutes
Read by Emily Eiden

Throughout her Whatever After series, author Sarah Mlynowski has taken readers through beloved and not-so-beloved fairy tales. Her characters have battled witches and wicked queens. And in the audio edition of the seventh installment, Beauty Queen, they forever change a tale as old as time.

The story opens as 10-year-old Abby is trying to help her little brother, seven-year-old Jonah, remember their adventures through the magic mirror in their basement after he was hit with magic that made him forget everything at the end of the last book. At the same time, she struggles with jealousy at school, after a classmate paints a gorgeous picture in art class, while Abby’s picture just isn’t what she imagined it to be. And when she and Jonah journey through the magic mirror and are brought to the world of Beauty and the Beast, she finds herself trying to fix yet another messed-up fairy tale.

The kingdom of Kingdom is a comical place, cleverly written as a land where everything is just as its name suggests. Throughout their adventures, Abby and Jonah meet Beauty and Mr. Beast and other characters named Mr. and Mrs. Butler (who run Mr. Beast’s castle), Freckles, and Grumpy Great-Grandma. This straightforward land leads to plenty of laughs—and that makes for an entertaining read.

This story, however, isn’t the best one for poor Abby. In fact, it brings out some of her worst traits. In the beginning of the book, she purposely destroys a classmate’s painting out of jealousy. Then, once she ends up in the fairy tale, she suffers from feelings of guilt over what she did in school, as well as frustration with Jonah’s lack of memories and a strong need to control the story and make it all work out. Of course, these are all perfectly normal feelings. The story’s message about jealousy and guilt is one that any reader will understand. And it’s totally understandable that Abby would do everything in her power—even if it means resorting to tricks and manipulation—to fix the story. But she often comes off as irritated, stubborn, and downright bossy.

In each book in the series, there are lessons to be learned—and, in this case, there are actually several. As Abby tries to make Beauty and Mr. Beast fall in love and live happily ever after, she learns lessons about more than just jealousy. She also learns about the importance of loving yourself for who you are—and not giving up on your hopes and dreams for anyone else. So while young listeners will enjoy taking another trip into a beloved fairy tale with some adventure-loving kids, they’ll learn some valuable lessons along the way, too.

Beauty Queen is a sweet, smart, and silly installment in this delightful fractured fairy tale series. With its lovable characters and classic tale, it’s sure to be a favorite for young readers and grown-ups alike.

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