Stepsister

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

GENRE(S): Young Adult, Pseudo-Historical, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling.

QUICK SUMMARY: Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

TW: Self-mutilation, mental illness (dementia), minor animal cruelty.

AVG. GOODREADS RATING: 4.15 ★ over 1, 700 ratings.

MY RATING: ★★★★★ (5)

MY REVIEW: The opening sequence is badass. Right away, it shows you how hardcore the main character is, and that assures you that this is not going to be a Nice Fairytale. The protagonist gives me Joan of Arc feels, and her character development and working on her flaws, and reworking and rethinking the way she’s shaped herself through the male gaze was really on point. I also loved her sister, and how in her ‘ugliness’ manifested itself as a sharp tongue and a keen mind.

In general, it does an excellent job of picking apart the step-sisters relationships with each other, and with (Cinder)Ella, and exploring how their mother (Ella’s step-mother) played them against each other. Ditto as showing what it means to be considered “ugly”. Because, really, if you’re a woman, ugly can mean not conventionally attractive, but it can also be a misogynistic way of saying a woman is “difficult”, clever or not particular about your appearance to a man’s satisfaction. There’s also a sweet little quote I can not find about how it’s a man’s world, and ugliness is the one sin that men can’t forgive in a woman. I also loved how much depth was given to the character of Ella, that there are downsides and flaws to be found in being pretty, and gentle, and beloved.

The setting (and the villagers that populated it) made me think of the Angry and Judgemental Townspeople in Beauty and the Beast, only partially because that’s also a pseuso-historical French village. Overall, I did like the fantastical Chance vs. Fates element of it, as well as the Fae Queen, but it was the way that feminism was so neatly and elegantly picked apart that made this book a hit for me.

It’s not as dark as Damsel by E. K Arnold or Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, but it’s definitely worth the read if you’re into feminist re-imaginings.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!
Was this review helpful?
This was a very Interesting retelling 

The first chapter had me with the way it portrays the fates and chance. 

I love the fact it was a mix of the Grimm's tales and mythology. 

In honesty I thought I would hate this book and find it predictable and end up forgetting it once finished. But I was mistaken this book has suck with me for a few days now and can't wait to suggest for others to read it
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to Bonnier Zaffre/Hot Key Books for an eARC via NetGalley of Jennifer Donnelly’s ‘Stepsister’ in exchange for an honest review. My apologies for this being late. I found that I was enjoying the first few chapters so much that I elected to buy its Kindle and Audible editions.

This was a skilful retelling of the story of Cinderella, focussing on what happens to Ella’s stepsisters after the failed attempt by their ambitious mother to trick the Prince into accepting one of them. As in the original story this is quite gristly rather than the idealised Disney version.

Yet these ‘ugly’ sisters are not quite the charectitures one might expect. Octavia (Tavi), the oldest, is very interested in mathematics and science and wanted an education, not gowns, corsets and suitors. The younger sister, Isabelle, was described by her mother as a hoyden (tomboy) and was made to learn to sing and dance and behave like a proper lady.

Isabelle has also come to the attention of cosmic forces. In the Prologue we are introduced to the Fates. They are visited by a mercurial figure that names himself Chance. He challenges them to a wager over Isabelle’s destiny. Both he and the eldest Fate head to the village of Saint-Michel, where Isabelle and her family live. They proceed to meddle in her life. Another player is Tanaquill, the fairy queen who had assisted Ella to attend the Prince’s Ball, but now is summoned by Isabelle to assist her. She sets a quest for Isabelle before she will grant her wish.

This was a delight. The writing was beautiful and elegant with rich characterisations. Jennifer Donnelly clearly has a good grasp of the original fairytale as well as the tropes of fantasy so was able to weave various strands together into a new perspective for a contemporary audience.

I felt that it was excellent and recommend it for lovers of fairytale retellings.
Was this review helpful?
This book was unexpectedly actually written in a fairytale-style language. I couldn't really get on with it but I think it would be perfect for anyone who loves fairytales and wants to read one for a slightly older audience.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

A continuation of the classic tale of Cinderella, this book starts after the two stepsisters, Isabelle and Octavia have mutilated their feet in order to try and fit into the glass slipper. The two and their mother have been shunned by their town and rarely leave their house for fear of constantly being reminded of their errors and being called names such as ‘ugly’. Their mother’s health has deteriorated and most days she has no idea what day it is and that their lives have drastically changed, leaving the girls to fend for themselves. 

You learn quite early on the reasons why and how the girl’s have turned out to be rude and quite horrible. It’s all they know, it’s all they’ve been taught. 

It’s interesting to see how the two sisters are actually quite different to the expectations of females in the era this book is set in. 

Octavia or Tavi, is obsessed with learning, that’s all she ever wanted growing up. She wanted to get an education, she wanted to be surrounded by numbers and science but instead she was forced into corsets and gowns. It made her angry and in turn she became rather unlikeable. 

Isabelle has loved to ride and play pirates since she was a little girl. This book shows a side of her which is brave but has been forced into a life that she didn’t want, doing what her mother told her because she knows how much her mother sacrificed for the two of them. 

This is a coming of age story for the two girls, especially for Isabelle. Isabelle has had to take on the motherly role in her small family and fights to look after them after their house is burned down. In search of the missing parts of her heart in order to become pretty Isabelle finds more than that. She is brave, strong and extremely determined. She makes so many sacrifices in this book and none to aid her in her quest for beauty. 

This book is very empowering to woman, showing that beauty isn’t everything. For all the girls who have been called ‘ugly’ this book shows that being pretty can be dangerous, that some of the strongest female figures in history were not pretty but strong, powerful, proud, brave and most of all beautiful. They changed the way society viewed females. Each of these women were told what to do and what not to do but instead of listening they followed their dreams and became some of the biggest figures in history. 

I found myself loving the growth of the characters in this book. Tavi found herself focusing on the things she enjoyed while Isabelle became braver and learnt how to believe in herself more. 

I did feel like the ending was rather rushed, I think I would have liked to have seen more of Isabelle in her element. Also, as much as I liked Fate and Chance, at times I felt like they weren’t needed in the book. Yes, they helped influence certain situations but I feel like the book would have done fine without them. 

Overall I really did enjoy this book and do highly recommend it to those who are looking for a story about finding yourself and ignoring what other people think about you.
Was this review helpful?
When girls are supposed to be pretty and nice and nothing else, what can you do if you're a little bit different? Constantly being reminded of what you're not, is a good recipe for bad feelings and resentment to grow and this is what happens to Ella's ugly stepsisters. When Ella gets her dream come true and marries the prince, the whole town hears how she was treated and her step-family must now endure the same treatment from everyone else.
Isabelle's future has been written on her map by the Fates, and nothing can change that harsh reality. Except maybe for Chance. He is determined to give Isabelle the opportunity to change her fate and in doing so, maybe make up for some of his own mistakes. The Crone, however, is convinced that people don't want to take chances and are better off blindly following their fate.
I really enjoyed the interactions between Ella and Isabelle. It made both of them more real and substantial characters. Ella is portrayed as quite a soppy girl. But she's also very kind and just trying to make things better for everyone, however she can.
Chance and his troupe create a play for Isabelle in the book and the description was so vivid it made me feel like I was there. Isabelle was almost spellbound and so was I. I think this play should be written and played to girls everywhere, I would love to see it for real.
For most of the book I was interested but not entirely gripped, however the last quarter of the book I did not want to put it down. I feel like there is so much in here that is worth the time and investment. There is more to true beauty than being sweet, pretty and amiable. I found it was very inspiring.
There's a wonderful quote which is so true I will try to remember it always - Believe that you can make your own way. Or don't. Either way, you are right.
Was this review helpful?
Wow..Stepsister is an excellent retelling of Cinderella from the stepsister's perspective. It is one of the best retellings I have ever read. We find out what became of the stepsisters after Cinderella got her happily ever after. Imaginative and full of atmosphere, it is hard not to feel immersed in this world. The story is beautifully written with plenty of magic and it even gets dark at times. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy fairytale retellings from new perspectives. This is one not to be missed!
Was this review helpful?
I Loved this! How refreshing to hear a different side to cinderella and her step sisters. This book sends a message. You can be perceived as an 'ugly' person and beat down by society and your upbringing but it really shows that's it our choices what makes us beautiful people. I think this is an excellent book for today's teens and ya and adults to read for we live in a world where girls and a lot of boys are expected to be a certain way or they feel there only good enough if they look a certain way. I will forever be recommending this book. The writing was beautiful, the characters were beautiful. Fate and chance intervening in peoples maps and the author showing us you can decide your own future. Perfection.
Was this review helpful?
The story begins with the non-Disney version of the tale, of two bitter stepsisters who have maimed their feet in order to secure a prince. Isabelle, the youngest – entitled, bitter, mean – is left nursing her bleeding foot as her beautiful and pure stepsister Ella rides off into the sunset, leaving her to remain as ‘ugly’ – both inside and out.

I admit I also had low expectations for the story. I was imagining a wholly bitter stepsister, or one dimensional characters that would be unrealistically petty or struggle to justify their redemption. Instead I found something completely different. And even worse, there were parts where the story, dialogue or slapstick comedy was actually funny. The ‘evil stepmother’ referring to cabbages as the Duke of Burgundy, the wit and snark shown by Tavi, monkeys running riot. It didn’t feel at all forced – just delightful.

What made this especially good, was that the story wasn’t just focused on Isabelle hating (Cinder)Ella for succeeding where she had failed. Instead, a war is spreading across France, Isabelle and her sister are struggling to survive and Chance and Fate have taken an interest in her mapped out life.

I particularly loved the crossover between a number of fairytale/mythological tropes: Fate vs Chance playing dice over mortals, the faerie queen; 3 objects of power, 3 parts to a heart, all with a background of something ominous coming. And actually, the almost unknown (except for name) invader worked well as motivation and in giving a sense that there was so much more to this world, to these stories and to the work of Chance and Fate.

What made this book so good for me, is that Isabelle doesn’t scrabble or beg for redemption – she fights for it every step of the way, until she is fighting to redeem herself for more than just Ella’s story, but for her own.
Was this review helpful?
I love retellings of traditional fairy tales – some of my favourites are To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – so I was delighted to receive this from Readers First and Netgalley in exchange for a review. Stepsister is a retelling of the Cinderella story which focuses mainly on one of the so-called ugly stepsisters – Isabelle. In most versions of the tale the ugly stepsisters are one-dimensional caricatures full of hatred and jealousy but in Stepsister Isabelle is an interesting and multi layered character – the story follows what happens after Cinderella marries the prince and leaves to live with him as well as flashing back to the past and the sisters lives together.
Donnelly has an interesting and unusual way of writing with very short sentences and short chapters which took me a while to get used to but I do like her writing style. I loved the character of Isabelle but I didn’t really feel that I got to know any of the other characters very well. The world building was good and I liked how fate and chance were personified as characters trying to influence Isabelle and alter the course of her life. If you like fairytale retellings then you will enjoy this.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to Hot Key Books and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book has been getting some really rave reviews so I was more than ready to hop right onto that hype train. The story has an interesting premise, it's a sequel to Cinderella that follows the 'ugly' stepsisters after the events of the original story.

The book opens with Isabelle, the main character, chopping off her toes to try and squeeze them into the famous glass slipper. Pretty metal really. From there, we learn more about the sisters' background and what caused them to turn bitter and cruel.

Running alongside Isabelle's story we have the characters of Fate, one of THE Fates, who has mapped out Isabelle's life, and Chance, the personification of...well Chance really, the chance to change your destiny. These two characters go head-to-head to try and gain control of Isabelle's destiny.

This book is unashamedly feminist and some quotes were like a punch to the gut. If you've ever been the 'ugly' girl, you'll know how true this experience is. 

"People will not forget. An ugly girl is too great an offence"

"Ah, child, the world is made for men. An ugly girl can never be forgiven"

The female relationships in the book are particularly strong and I really liked pretty much all of the main characters which is rare for me. They are nuanced and we see them grow significantly over the course of the story. You know characters are well-written when one of your favourites in a horse. 

Things lost their momentum a bit towards the end and the conclusion felt a little rushed. Maybe less cabbage picking and more battle strategy would have helped with the pacing.

Overall, a thought provoking feminist read that also manages to be imaginative and great fun.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 🌟 
I really enjoyed this story, it’s a really interesting and refreshing spin off from the well known Cinderella tale. 
Cinderella, Ella, is already on the throne with the prince and the story focuses on Isabella, one of her stepsisters.
Isabella becomes caught in the middle of an ongoing battle between Fate and Chance, and as the story unfolds she must choose whether to stay on the path she’s on or to do the right thing and put others first.
It’s a part moralistic, feminist,  tale combined with a beautifully written and entertaining fairy tale.
A must read for fans of Marrisa Meyer and Christina Henry.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
Stepsister is a retelling of Cinderella from the stepsisters perspective. The storyline goes beyond the point where Cinderella usually stops, and we get to see what actually happened to the stepsisters when Cinderella had married the prince and moved to the palace.

The story starts from the prince looking for his mysterious princess who left behind a glass shoe. But bewarned, Stepsister doesn't follow the Disney version, but the original one in which the stepsisters cut off their own toes and heels to squeeze their feet into the glass slipper. This is where the story picks up, with Isabelle holding a knife over her own toes, being egged on by her abusive mother.

Stepsister reads like a Disney movie. It is action-packed but still whimsical from talking squirrels to necklace stealing monkeys. But this doesn't mean that the book is childish or for children. In fact, Stepsister has a young tone but it is filled with very distressing events. There is war, abuse, bullying, and violence. It is an eerie, dark fairytale in which the characters aren't pure and the magic is neither.

Stepsister has been advertised as a feminist retelling of Cinderella, and oh boy, finally we have a book that delivers on the feminism front. Body shaming, beauty ideals are obviously discussed, but so is the role of women in general, the need for getting married and what is the place of a woman in the world. Stepsister takes strong stand against abusive ideals but still shows them in a realistic light. This is the kind of rep I have been looking for in all books that have been described 'feminist'; deep and thoughtful discussion about the unequality in the world and how it could be solved. This isn't another fantasy with a sword-wielding main protagonist who isn't like the other girls (although that trope can be done well too).

I also loved that the two stepsisters in the book were not similar. They had their own passions and interests, and at times they couldn't understand each other, just like sisters do. Tavi has keen interest in the sciences and she makes funky experiments when given the chance, while Isabelle would like nothing more than train with soldiers and lead a group into a victorious battle.

Cons

Stepsisters has a bit of an odd sub-plot with Fate and Chance playing a game around the lives of the stepsisters. I couldn't really connect to this part of the plot nor was I very invested in the characters of Fate and Chance. This meant that at times I felt a bit disconnected from the story.

While I really liked Stepsister, I thought that the juvenile writing style didn't really go together with the story. When I started the book, I was at first slightly frustrated that it would be directed at the middle grade-young adult gap rather than the more usual older spectrum of YA (like 16+). There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't read a lot of middle grade nor younger YA which meant that I wasn't too keen to find out about it. However, with all the dark and gruesome elements of the plot, I can't believe that Stepsister would actually be directed towards younger YA. This combination left me a bit baffled; was I just imagining the younger writing style or was it meant to balance out the gruesome aspects of the plot? I think I would have ended up liking Stepsisters a bit more if the writing style was a bit less juvenile.

Overall: I really liked Stepsister and I would warmly recommend it to quench your thirst for feminist retellings of fairytales. I especially loved the multiple quotes that the book had!
Was this review helpful?
A wad of soft cotton was brought. A fresh white stocking. Brandy. And the glass slipper.
Maman handed it to her. “Put it on. Hurry,” she said.

Isabelle took it. It was heavy in her hands and cold to the touch. As she slid her foot into it, pain bit into her, sharp‑toothed and savage. It moved up her leg and through her body until she felt as if she were being eaten alive. The blood drained from her face. She closed her eyes and gripped the arms of her chair.
And yet, when Maman demanded that she get up, Isabelle did. She opened her eyes, took a deep breath, and stood.
Isabelle could do this impossible thing because she had a gift—a gift far more valuable than a pretty face or dainty feet.
Isabelle had a strong will.
She did not know that this was a good thing for a girl to have, because everyone had always told her it was a terrible thing. Everyone said a girl with a strong will would come to a bad end. Everyone said a girl’s will must be bent to the wishes of those who know what’s best for her.
Isabelle was young, only sixteen; she had not yet learned that Everyone is a fool.

First impressions: When I first saw this advertised I wanted to read it…yet I was cautious. I am a massive fan of fairytales and I love retellings. However, I have also been disappointed in the past by retellings that somehow don’t manage t capture the magic of the original. Luckily, Readersfirst were offering the option to read the first three chapters so I felt reassured that I would be able to read them and decide whether or not it would be worth reading…well, wow!

From the first line, let alone the first three chapters, I was blown away!

This is what I wrote then: “The writing is smart, fast-paced and instantly creates characters who the reader can connect with, vividly evoking them in just a few small details. I loved meeting the Fates and Luck/Chance in the prologue, then Isabelle and her sisters in the first chapter. I can just tell that I’m going to love this!”

Unfortunately, this now meant that I had to wait to read the rest of the book so I devoured it as soon as it appeared through my door a few days later.

I am happy to report that my first impressions were accurate and I absolutely adored this book. Both Isabelle and Tavi are interesting, well-rounded characters whereas Cinderella comes across as nice, but a bit bland.

Th story starts with Chance stealing a map from the Fates – each map shows the life of a human and is, at least in theory, unchangeable. Yet Chance wants to give Isabelle the opportunity to change her fate. We meet out main character as she and her sister mutilate their feet to fit the glass slipper…and yet, we all know how the fairytale ends.

The story then picks up in the aftermath of Cinderella leaving with the Prince and everyone finding out how badly she was treated. Isabelle, Tavi and their mother become outcasts and have to try to find their way in a world that has no space for girls who like riding, swordfighting and science.

I loved the message that societl norms are not everything and that girls can be everything they want to be, regardless of what the people around them say.

 

What I liked: How realistic all the characters are, the feminist messages, Chance and his devil-may-care attitude, Isabelle and her determination – strangely I liked her right from the start, even when she’s not being the most pleasant! I liked the inclusion of the Fairy Queen, Tanquil, and how she is seen almost as a force of nature, neither good nor evil.

Even better if: I didn’t have enough time with the characters! I didn’t want this book to finish!

How you could use it in your classroom: This would be a great addition to any library for teenage readers and would be fun to read and discuss after looking at the ‘original’ fairytale and all the variants of Cinderella from around the world. I would love to use this to discuss themes in fairytales, gender roles and the dichotomy of fate and free will. So many things to get your teeth into when using this book in the classroom!
Was this review helpful?
This is definitely one of the best retellings I’ve ever read. The story began at the very end of (Cinder)Ella’s tale which gave this novel a fresh and imaginative feel to it as it was a continuation of the story rather than a full turn over of the plot.

All of the characters were superb, Isabelle is the feisty and stubborn main character we all get behind. Tavi the other step sister is bookish and loves maths, I would have liked the opportunity to learn more about Tavi as I felt she was a very relatable character. Sequel, please! Chance and Fate were two very intriguing characters, I was not expecting to read about them in a fairytale story, I will be delighted if there are more instalments planned in this magical world!

I’d have preferred more of an in depth look into how the step mother treated her own daughters and the abuse they suffered but the story was very focused on Isabelle and the journey she was on. A story based on Isabelle’s character progression and redemption, with the interfering workings of Fate and Chance. The author portrayed Isabelle brilliantly, she wasn’t flawless at all, she had many faults but in claiming her flaws she deserved a happy ending!

A wonderful story about finding yourself and learning what means the most to you. About believing in yourself and seeing past the judgement of others, as well as making your own choices and decisions. I really enjoyed this story and I would fully recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
I really wanted to like this book, but for some reason just wasn’t able to get into it. The premise was wonderful, but the writing a bit verbose—I found myself skipping paras to get to the point. What I also liked was how the stepsisters’ were the protagonists, not Cinderella (Ella). The battle between the Fates and Chance was cleverly set up, as was the questioning of useless hetero-patriarchal norms without any proselytising. Frankly, I’m surprised at not being able to read this to the end—I’d think it was just the sort of thing I’d gobble up. 

(Review copy from NetGalley)
Was this review helpful?
It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I was pleasantly surprised and I think many readers will enjoy this tale. Full review to come online soon.
Was this review helpful?
When you are little, you watch a lot of movies. For us girls, life is filled with princesses and happy ever afters. With castles and knights in shining armours. And it’s always that the beautiful girls get their princes. Only beautiful girls get to be happy.
In this book, we get to really see the reality of what I have said above. It is all true. Only beautiful girls get the happy ever after. But beauty doesn’t always mean pretty.
In a world of prejudice and bullying, Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly shows people, especially girls, that it is okay to be different. It is okay to be brave and follow your dreams. It is okay to be wild and strong willed. The people that truly love you, will always be by your side.
Meet Isabelle – Cinderella’s ugly stepsister. The girl that cuts her toes to get into the glass slipper. For those who didn’t know, the original Cinderella story by the Grimm brothers indeed has a scene where both ugly stepsisters cut their heel and toes, just to fit in the slipper and marry the prince.
‘’The little toe was the hardest. Which didn’t come as a surprise. It’s often the small things that hurt the most – a cold glance, a cutting word, laughter that stops when you enter the room.’’

Isabelle has never really wanted to be evil, but jealousy and mum’s pressure have been doing their own thing. When she gets a second chance in life though, she goes for it. She must complete an impossible task to find her happy ever after. And while doing so, she will find her true self.
‘’Most people will fight when there is some hope for winning, no matter how slim. They are called brave. Only a few will keep fighting when all hope is gone. They are called warriors. Isabelle was a warrior once, though she has forgotten it.’’

Be prepared to feel all emotions, and cheer for Isabelle, when she is fighting against the world. Relive the magic of an amazing retelling and be ready for an unforgettable adventure. What Jennifer has done to bring the Grimm feeling into a powerful story is to be admired. I will admire and cherish this book forever.
I am not a fan of re-reading books, but this will definitely be one book I will always come back to.
‘’Algebra comes from Arabic. From al-jabr, which means ‘’the reunion of broken parts’’. Al-Khwarizmi believed that what’s broken can be made whole again if you just apply the right equation.’’

”If only there was an equation that could do the same for people.”

Thank you to the team at ReadersFirst, for sending me a paperback copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I struggled to get in to this one at first. Something about the whimsical fairytale style applied to the longer form just jarred with me during the introductory phases, making me wonder if I'd ever be able to settle in to the story. But settle I did, and I enjoyed this twist on the 'they all lived happily ever after' ending.

Stepsister isn't just an exploration of what 'the end' means for the girls who cut off their body parts to fit in their sister's glass slipper. It's an, occasionally heavy handed, feminist exploration of what it means to be a girl - the fairytale lens all the more powerful because really, not all that much has changed. Society still holds strong ideas about what a girl 'should' be. Isabelle is out to defy all those expectations.

The stuff with Fate and Chance did at times feel a little twee, but also a necessary conceit to make the fairytale framework function. Stylistically, the writing bugged me a bit from time to time - again, it sometimes felt a little twee - but overall, this was a fun, feminist story that would appeal to younger teens. Particularly those girls who don't quite fit the mould society would cut off their toes to squash them in to.
Was this review helpful?
There has been a whole load of retellings over the past few years changing and subverting age-old tales and in a time when female empowerment is firmly on the agenda, this is a powerful, meaningful and empowering story. In lush, lyrical prose Donnelly rafts a mesmerising and timely tale which takes place immediately after the original concludes. I loved this as it was well thought out, written in a pacy fashion and has a genius cast of characters - fate and chance, and I particularly enjoyed how strong-minded, independent and intelligent Cinders was compared to the classic version. The characters come alive on the page and you live every single second alongside them.

Some retellings are mediocre, others abysmal but every now and again, once in a Blue Moon I stumble on a thoroughly entertaining twist on the original, and here, Ms Donnelly redefines the much-loved fairytale, Cinderella. She brings it up to date and takes into account what is happening in the world right now including #metoo demonstrations and the movement as a whole and the way we women have an innate human right to be in complete control of mind and body. The stereotypes from the classic version are gone and replaced with updated characters. I don't want to give too much away, but this is fantastic retelling and is certainly up there with the best I've read. Many thanks to Hot Key Books for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?