Yes, I'm in love with this series!
Fairest: Wide Awake is another spinoff from the main series, but it's by Willingham himself, so it has the balance of fun and seriousness that the tale does so well, plus a good stiff dose of the multi-layered fairytale play: Ali Baba, the Snow Queen, and Sleeping Beauty are main players, and then there's a bottle imp.
It's a spinoff, but it is more closely tied to the main stories than some. I really, really, really don't recommend reading it until you're at least past Volume 16 of the main series, not if you don't want some more spoilers. In fact, if you haven't gotten that far and you do mind spoilers, you should probably just accept that Fairest Vol. 1 is awesome and skip the rest of the review, because there are going to be a couple of spoilers for Fables.
What's Fairest about?
It goes back to battle tactics in Fables. Remember how Sleeping Beauty's curse put everyone around her to sleep? The Fables used this against their enemy, taking her to a major city and having her prick her finger. She thus put an entire enemy city to sleep and was left there to keep them from waking. Later, soldiers were instructed to move and guard her carefully. The problem? There were two beautiful maidens found asleep in the city. Both were collected and left in the center of a camp. Now, a resourceful thief, Ali Baba, has found a bottle imp who leads him to the princesses. He wakes both. One is Sleeping Beauty, one is not. There could be true love ahead. There could be death.
The bottle imp really steals the show here. Oh, the thief and princesses are great, but the bottle imp is the one using his wits and words to shape the tale and he's fantastic. I love the fact that he really wants to be mischievous and cause trouble, but his orders mean he can't--at least, not mostly. This is also the first retelling of "The Snow Queen" I've ever liked.
Also, there is a really heart-breaking "Beauty and the Beast" story at the end. The volume would be worth it just for that.
I don't really recommend this for people who haven't been reading the main series; it will make you want to read the rest, and you'll go into the book with some major plot elements spoiled, but if you like the series, but are unsure about spinoffs, don't wait any longer. Pick it up!
The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia
Fyrefly's Book Blog
Links of Interest
Fairest: Wide Awake on Amazon.
Bill Willihngham's website
@BillWillingham on Twitter
Phil Jimenez website