Beauty is a variation of Snow White…except Queen Veda is Ana’s real mother, and, instead of using a magical mirror, she continually checks her status as most beautiful in all the land with an actual man. More specifically, she gets her answers from the colors the Beauty Consultant’s eyes glow, and they, like the fairy tale mirror, cannot lie.
Also unlike Snow White, Ana is keenly aware of her mother’s vanity, and she deliberately sabotages her own appearance to keep off the queen’s radar. She does damage in the most obvious ways, like not bathing or brushing her hair, as well on a larger scale by eating nothing but junk food to stay overweight. The very first time we meet Ana, in fact, she’s refusing fruit and ordering a full dozen pastries – ½ bitter chocolate and ½ cloudberry, which I immediately assumed was, like the magical eyes, a product of the author’s imagination.
So I was quite surprised to discover that not only is cloudberry an actual fruit, but that it’s found everywhere from Siberia to Alaska to New Hampshire! Turns out the berries are eaten fresh, frozen, with cream and sugar, in jam, in juice, and even used to make liquor. Who knew?
Oh, and the cloudberry is sometimes referred to as a “bakeapple,” making its appearance in this story yet another allusion to Snow White, perhaps?
Anyway, now I feel like I need to try and get my hands on some berries (or maybe even seeds) to see if I can grow some of this magic myself…but only after I see how Ana’s story turns out. ;)