Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

This book was amazing!, I gave this book 4.5 stars, I loved the plot, I loved how it is based on the grim brothers version of cinderella, and I love how it focuses on the step sisters. I really like Isabelle the most out of all the characters because in a way I can relate to her in other ways I felt sorry for her. The way this book is written is amazing,
Was this review helpful?
I'd say this was maybe a...3.5? Which may not make sense when I say what I'm about to say, and that is how I feel this book was pretty important to me.

This is a Cinderella re-telling (as I'm sure you can guess from the cover and the title alone!) where the stepsister is looking for some kind of atonement after Cinderella has gone to marry her prince and rule her castle as Queen in Paris. 

Firstly, I really enjoyed the character development of Isabelle. At first, she's clearly only looking for this atonement because she wants to be as beautiful as Ella and perceived as good without...actually being a good person. Doing a good deed because you want to appear good kind of stops it from being a good deed. As the book progresses, she does feel actual guilt and turns into a warrior fighting for goodness. 

Secondly, I have struggled with insecurity my entire life. I'm an LGBTQ+ plus size person with several disabilities and mental illnesses. I've been called ugly far more than I've been called pretty. There is always a kind of weight on top of being beautiful, something to aim for. Although I wish I could, without having to be strong or a warrior or something that outshines the fact that I am not pretty, I like how it highlights how women in the history that wouldn't be called pretty are still considered beautiful because of a characteristic about them that just outshone this. It comforted me, and made me feel like I could still be beautiful by being me and how being pretty (although still a privilege in this society) isn't all sunshine and rainbows. 

Now, for me, a three star rating isn't a bad rating although I know many people who would consider it one. The reason it isn't four or five stars was because I had difficulty getting through it, if I'm honest. There were a lot that just...dragged. The second half of the book was WAY better than the first half of the book but the first half really let the overall novel down, which is super disappointing because I could see this being one of my favourites otherwise. Even though the MC is technically disabled, there was also a complete lack of diversity which I know in part was because of the time period but minority groups still existed and it just...was ignored? Well, it wasn't brought up at all so, yeah, like they don't exist. 

That pretty much sums it up, really. I know I'm going to recommend this to people with insecurities because personally it really uplifted me and helped give me hope and inspiration that a person is more than their appearance and although we live in a world, and always have, where appearance matters more to people than what you are like inside we can still strive to be the best of ourselves. A great book about coming into ourselves, being comfortable with who we are and learning to forgive who we once were.
Was this review helpful?
You know what? That summary doesn’t even nearly do this book justice. Because this book does something that I honestly didn’t expect. So often in ‘villain redemption’ retellings the way they choose to go is to show it was all a misunderstanding and really they were lovely all along and it was the heroine (in this case Ella) who was trash all along. In this case, it’s never in doubt that Isabelle and her sister and mother were awful to Ella and the story told isn’t one of re-writing but one of redemption. The thing that tends to bother me about this kind of story is that we’re often expected to forgive the ex-villain their past wrongs and move on with them as the protagonist without too much bother. There’s usually a good amount of ‘oh but they had a really hard time in childhood’ thrown in there. Perhaps I’m not as forgiving of a person as I ought to be, but I find it difficult to just go along with a redeemed character unless I feel as though they truly have changed. I thought that this book did a really good job of combining an explanation for why the stepsisters were so horrible alongside a real journey of learning, growing and truly repenting. It makes the whole character arc so much more believable and impactful - this may have the feel of a fairytale but it takes more than magic to fix everything that has happened.

I mentioned the feel of a fairytale, which is another thing I think this book did really well. So often people try to capture the language of fairytales and everything ends up feeling pretentious and false. What this book does is it takes some of the hallmarks of fairytales, such as the rule of three and the idea of fate vs chance but manages to make the language, particularly the dialogue of the characters, feel very real and very accurate to the intended time period (if not the setting - but my French isn’t good enough to read all the dialogue in French!).

There is romance in this story, which I don’t want to dwell on for too long because I think you should experience it for yourself, but let me just say that it is incredibly sweet and I thought it was a nice addition to the story as a whole.

I thought that the sibling relationship between Isabelle and her sister Tavi was well done also, Tavi is a mathematician and a scientist - but somehow this book manages to steer clear of the ‘she’s the girl who’s into maths so she’s the nerd and she’s into nerd things’ kind of feeling - it’s just what she’s interested in. I liked how the relationship between the two girls fluctuated throughout the book - I’ve never had a sister but it certainly felt like an accurate sibling relationship.

Overall, I think this is a really strong story. Maybe too much emphasis is put on one particular cheese - you have to read it to find out - but I still had a great time reading it. It’s a lot of short chapters so would be perfect for someone looking for something quick to read or someone who likes to block out their reading and do just a little each day. While at times it can feel a bit ‘feminism 101’ I think it would be a valuable starting point for wider conversations about beauty and self-worth among young people, particularly young women.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Stepsister published May 15th!
Was this review helpful?
I really loved this book, a tale of Fate and Chance. Fate believes that your path in life can not be changed while Chance believes it can, they make a bet and choose one of Cinderellas ugly stepsisters Isabelle. Isabelle has believed everything she has been told in live, that she is to ugly, to outspoken and doesn’t act like a lady and will never find a suitable husband. When she unintentionally summons the fairy queen Tanaquill, who helped Cinderella in her time of need. She wishes she was pretty, but the fairy queen tells her she must find the broken pieces of her heart first. 
This is such a beautifully written story, the writing style is so wonderful and easy to read and I have so many wonderful quotes! It is a great story about women and all the things they can be and pretty isn’t everything. I truly recommend this book for everyone to read!
Was this review helpful?
You need to read this ! This isn’t just a retelling, it’s an amazing, empowering book for women , but for everyone.  Lessons about what really is beautiful in people, morals, heart and ugliness like vanity and selfishness may sound cliche but it is done perfectly with strong real characters and again empowering female roles.

You really need to read this 

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Was this review helpful?
~ I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ~ 

“Here are things girls die of: hunger, disease, accidents, childbirth, and violence. It takes more than heartache to kill a girl. Girls are tough as rocks.”

This nitty, gritty retelling of Cinderella reveals the aftermath of the original tale through the eyes of Isabella, the “ugly” stepsister who proves that people are never just black-and-white. 

I adored every single page within this book and revelled in each female-empowering moment; Isabella seeks to alter the worlds perception of her and her journey to do so will leave you absolutely captivated by the ‘ugly stepsister’.

I believe largely the main reason as to why I enjoyed it so much, because all the characters are so complex, and therefore so real and relatable. In all honesty, nobody views themselves as ‘pretty’ or ‘attractive’ so it’s refreshing to witness a protagonist who eventually takes pride in her individuality, and in the fact that she doesn’t need to be ‘beautiful’ in order to accomplish anything.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book I love fairy tale retellings. I lokes the different take on the Cinderella story I likes the  back story of how Cinderella or ella in this case fell out with her sisters by her sisters getting overlooked because ella was a prettier then them. Brilliant book will recommend loved it.
Was this review helpful?
This took me a LONG time to get into the story. I contemplated putting it down, but I'm really trying to finish EVERY book this year and actually I'm glad I stuck with it. 

Get past the "woe is me" angle for the first 30% and you will be in for a treat. 

I loved the twist on a classic fairytale where we know what happens at the end, but what happens after the ever after and what happens to the stepsisters? 

This is a good fem fiction novel, which does empower you by the end. Isabelle and Octavia (the two stepsisters) both become quite loveable by the end. 

I do give this 3 out 5, just because it was such a slow burn at the beginning.

Thank you netgalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
There are a lot of retellings being written at the moment. In the same way vampires, and fae, and dystopian have been popular, it is undoubtedly the time of the retelling. I have been wary, there is only so many ways an old story can be retold before the market is thoroughly saturated, but I felt something different when I read the synopsis for this book, and I am now extremely glad that Titan sent me an eARC to review, because it was a golden light in a sea of similar stories.

Stepsister is a retelling of Cinderella, but instead of focusing on the life before the glass slipper, or on Cinderella itself, it focuses heavily on the stepsisters (Isabelle in particular) and tracks life before and after Ella’s marriage to the Prince. The characters are everything we know, kind, beautiful, and thoughtful in Ella’s case; vain, cold, and manipulative in the case of the stepmother, and morally vacuous and ugly (more inside than out) in the case of the stepsisters.

The first thing to note in this booking is that the character arc of the stepsisters is not to the detriment of Ella. So many stories have to put a downer on one character to advance the cause of another and I really like that Donnelly has kept Ella morally and aesthetically kind and beautiful. It is a genuinely brilliant example of feminism, and in itself is a moralistic lesson in improving yourself and adding to your own profile without damaging anyone elses. Ella appears at different points, without spoiling the plot, and is exactly as described by everyone as well, no-one lies, downplays her characteristics, and her story is wonderfully honest.

The stepmother, and Tavi (the second sister) are more what I would expect from the character themselves (in the stepmother’s case) and the characters around them (in the case of Octavia/Tavi). The stepmother is vain to an extreme, and at the beginning of the story manipulates her daughters for her own selfish gain – dismissing Ella as a servant and irrelevant. As the story progresses, she becomes less and less coherent and descends from morally repugnant to mentally unstable in a sad downward spiral. The stepsisters do their best to hide it from the world and support her in a surprising display of morally good behaviour, but she does not have a redemption arc as is probably expected through the story.

Tavi, however, is cast as being ugly and unpleasant because she is an example of not fitting the ideal of a classic woman of her time. She isn’t interested in dresses and physical beauty, or in being an example of perceived femininity of the time, and is interested in experimenting at any moment she can. She is fascinated and incredibly able at conducting scientific experimentation and loses herself in books and research rather than sewing and parading around in her finery. For this, she is viewed as irrelevant, troublesome, and ugly (in part because she also shunned Ella to follow said pursuits). I really like that she stands for what she believes in, nothing holds her endeavours back, and her experimentation, however successful, is weaved back into the story for positive rather than negative reasons.

The main body of the story follows Isabelle and her interactions with the human forms of Chance and Fate. Isabelle is fairly awful at the beginning of the story, cutting her toes off to fit the glass slipper, talking down about Ella, and generally being unpleasant to many of the characters she interacts with. It’s not from her childhood, because her younger self was strong (physically, mentally, and moralistically), she developed to be ‘ugly’ in the behavioural self, and it is these behaviours and morals that she is arguably correcting as the story proceeds.

The story actually tracks old crone fate and Marquis Chance, who are literal embodiements of the idea of following your fate or taking a chance on a new path. Fate has (literally) mapped a life for Isabelle and due to an unfortunate incident with the villain of the piece, the chance he took had a negative effect on her path and he is trying to change her life for the better. After a meeting with the fairy queen, she begs to be pretty, and Fate and Chance intervene to try and influence her down her pre-mapped path (Fate) and for a new path (Chance).

It’s not actually about these influences, more how she changes. Her morals evolve, and the wants she has at the beginning of the story change as she realises what is important in life and to her. As she changes, and her sister solidifies her scientific stance, there outward ‘ugliness’ dissolves to one of abject beauty. It’s not that they have changed, but they personalities shine through in a new way and I can help but admire the author for spectacularly passing such a valuable message in a YA book. In a world where beauty is regularly considered to be skin deep, despite the life lessons we’re told from a young age, Donnelly proves her characters are more beautiful when they’re honest and follow their passions and paths, and not when they changes for the whims of others.

As someone who prides themselves on liking sports, and science, and also liking feeling good, i am so pleased to see a book where young women are at their best and most beautiful when they stand up for their passions and beliefs. They are not forced to change and become better people, and more desirable, the more they are true to themselves.

I do have to say, as almost the only negative, is that this book is quite weird. I like weird books, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed to flip and flop this way and that way with a ferocity that almost gave me whiplash. Yes, it sticks to the story’s internal logic flawlessly, and it does keep the reader abreast of what is going on, but it is relentless in its craziness. It was sensical to me, but I can’t help but wonder if younger readers would lose themselves slightly or think elements are nonsensical. I also hope younger readers do pick up on the heavily moralistic element. I didn’t really think it was hidden, but I am reading it as a 27yr old and not a youngster!

Overall, this book really took me by surprise in the best way. It was a great example of what a good retelling can be, and told a story that hasn’t been told before. It felt fresh and different, and even though it was a brilliant example of feminism (something I hugely appreciate in fiction), it was just a great example of being an honest person who follows their path irrespective of what others think or try to influence. It’s rare I thank an author (I should more really) but in this case, I have to say that this is a masterpiece in being a good person and we should both praise and appreciate that, and then celebrate the author, and the book, and the message!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Hot Key Books for allowing me the opportunity to read this title ahead of release. 

Stepsister is a fairytale retelling based on the classic story of Cinderella, given a feminist angle. It combines elements from different variations on the plot arc from a number of different eras and cultures which creates a varied and interesting narrative arc. The characters are three dimensional and flawed, which makes for a rounded story. However, it becomes quite dark and deals with distressing themes at times which some readers may not be expecting (although I believe the cover alludes to the fact it is not your Disneyfied version). 

Personally, I struggled a little with the language and time period but I’m sure that’s personal preference and would be enjoyed by other readers. 

One to look out for if you’re interested in retellings but perhaps for older readers given some of the content.
Was this review helpful?
Trigger Warning: This book features discussion of considering suicide, threat of sexual assault, dead bodies, and war.

I had been so looking forward to reading Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly ever since first hearing about it. A feminist retelling of Cinderella, a sequel from an ugly stepsister's point of view! What could be better?! Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed with this one.

The positives first. Stepsister is very feminist. The reason the stepsisters, Isabelle and Tavi, were cruel to Ella? Jealousy. They all live in a world where women are meant to be good and kind and pretty. All things Ella was and is, and charms the people around her. They adore her. But being into fencing and horse riding and the great generals of the past, like Isabelle is, or into maths and science like Tavi is, isn't very ladylike. Plus, they're not very pretty, and what man is going to want to marry a woman who isn't pretty? Both Isabelle and Tavi have been hurt by the things people say about them because of how they look and their interests, and that they're not particularly feminine, yet see Ella constantly being praised and told how pretty she is, so they took their hurt and anger out on her. Time and again, throughout the novel, Isabelle, and Tavi to a smaller degree, are pretty much told that who they are is wrong, because they are women. Stepsister is all about Isabelle learning to embrace who she is, learning to like who she is, and being herself unapologetically, despite the world trying to force her into a box she clearly doesn't fit in, and, honestly, doesn't really want to fit in. Stepsister took a really interesting look at gender roles, and what beauty actually means, what beauty actually is.

I loved how the story is about a fight for Isabelle's life, not just from her, but from one of the Fates and from Chance. The three Fates - the maiden, the mother, and the crone - draw maps for every single person's life, and Isabelle's map is destined to end violently. Chance is a young man who steals Isabelle's map from the Fates, believing that people shouldn't have their lives mapped out for them, ad should be able to decide on their own path. He steals the map to give Isabelle a chance to change her fate, and the crone and Chance bet on how Isabelle's life will end up - and then interfere with her life to get the outcome they want. I've read this kind of story before - where beings take an interest in particular people's lives, and compete with each other, bending the lives of these people who have no knowledge of how their lives are being manipulated, like The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough - but it was really fascinating to see this kind of story melded with a retelling. It was quite an interesting twist.

However, Stepsister was written for what felt like a much younger audience, which generally isn't for me. There's not a problem with it, I just don't like MG books, and this felt like, throughout, a book that would make a great MG/YA crossover novel. But then there would be moments where it was quite clear that this was definitely a YA novel. It got quite dark in places; there's a time when Isabelle confronts a thief trying to steal her chickens, and the thief notices her eyeing the rake and trying to figure out how to get to it, and he suggest she should use "my tool" instead, quite threateningly. Stepsister has an omnipresent narrator that talks to the reader; sometimes, they're pointing things out to us that the characters have missed, other times, they're almost advising the audience - and to be honest, it did feel a little heavy handed at times, a little preachy. But there's one point where Isabelle is despairing at the situation she's in, and the narrator talks to the reader, and says, pretty much, if you want to hang yourself, wait to get the rope until the morning, because you might change your mind. And it's so blasé. And it just felt so wrong. The narrator is talking to the reader about the reader hanging themselves! That just really didn't sit right with me at all. Am I over reacting? But this and the threat of sexual assault - making this book very much a YA novel, and potentially a bit older than the younger end of YA - did not fit the way in which the story was written, where Stepsister felt like it was aimed at quite a younger audience.

And I just wanted more from the story, I think. In the great scheme of things, not a huge deal actually happens. Perhaps it's because I've read a number of other retellings, but I was expecting a more complex story. And while, yes, Chance and the crone's interfering put obstacles and opportunities in Isabelle's path, apart from the odd time or two, nothing really major happens. And some of the relationships I just didn't find to be that believable. With the romance, it's nothing to write home about; we never really know why the two like each other (not giving names because of spoilers). Hugo, who Isabelle and Tavi have to spend time with, can't stand either of them, but he is like such a child; his problems regarding them are based on what I've said above - neither Isabelle nor Tavi behave the way women are expected to - but how he insults them is just bloody ridiculous. He's like a five-year-old! So the hate to something like friends relationship that develops is just irritating. I couldn't stand him.

And then there's Isabelle and Tavi themselves. I mean, Isabelle thinks back over some of thing they have said or done to Ella in the past, and while, yes, they were mean, apart from locking her in her room when the prince came with the glass slipper, they never really did anything that I would consider to be monstrously cruel; it was more like the kind of fights that happen between siblings when they're young. Isabelle and Tavi weren't mean, cruel people - they just had moments where they weren't very nice. But otherwise they're pretty normal? Fairly decent human beings? They're just not the ugly stepsisters I was expecting. I know we get villain origin or sequel stories where they're written so that we come to understand and maybe even sympathise with them as we get the story from their perspective, but they're still the characters we know, we just find out why they are the way they are. Isabelle and Tavi are unrecognisable as the ugly stepsisters we've grown up loathing.

So Stepsister turned out to be quite a disappointment, sadly. It really wasn't for me, but it might be for you, so do read a few more reviews before deciding whether or not you'll read it yourself.
Was this review helpful?
If you can forgive the heavy handedness of the feminist message, this is an inventive twist on the classic fairy-tale. It's beautifully written with plenty of action as well as food for thought & some memorable supporting characters.  Very enjoyable.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars!

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

“A wolf lives in Isabelle. She tries hard to keep him down, but his hunger grows. He cracks her spine and devours her heart.”

As a huge fan of fairytale retellings, particularly ones with a feminist twist, stepsister was one of my highly anticipated releases this year and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. However, because I’ve read so many books of this type the issues were more noticeable than they may have been to a different reader.

On the positive side I thoroughly enjoyed the use of parts of Grimm’s original tale, starting off the novel seeing the sisters being made to chop of parts of their feet to fit the glass slipper made for a strong start. Both sisters, Isabelle and Tavi, made compelling characters to follow as two women who don’t fit the traditional mould that a women is expected to fit herself into. I also loved the overall message about women needing to support each other and the toxic nature of jealousy.

However, on the negative side I ended up feeling that a lot of the world building didn’t mesh as well as it could have. The different magical characters and elements on there own were intriguing, such as Tanaquill the fairy queen, but when combined didn’t always feel like they belonged in the same story.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Stepsister, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a Cinderella retelling. But, I wish everything could have been a little more developed and come together a little more cohesively.
Was this review helpful?
“Who set us against each other, Ella? she wondered. Was it those men? Was it Maman? Or was it the whole heartless world?” 

Jennifer Donnelly's retelling of Cinderella has been a joy to read. The chapters are fairly short and keep you moving along, although I did find it a little slower in the first half I loved the second half of the book.

Leaning on the original Grimm's tale, we start off in the story when the sisters are maiming their feet to fit in the slipper. We meet The Fates who have mapped out Isabelle's (one of the sisters) life, and Chance who seeks to change her fate. An enemy is scouring the land with his army - a path that Chance accidentally set - and by changing Isabelle's fate, he hopes to stop what he set into motion. 

Ella doesn’t feature much in the book - we follow the story from a couple of viewpoints but predominantly Isabelle's. In this tale, they weren't always the mean stepsisters but turned towards it in their childhood. Isabelle and Octavia, the other sister, are both strong willed and do not fit into the box that a girl is expected to by the world around them - they're described as not making good wives. 

The fairy queen is nothing like the Disney version (I haven't read Grimm's version, I just know odd details). She's dangerous and has a penchant for live rabbits. Without saying too much, she also has a hand, along with Chance, in helping Isabelle find her place in the world and accept who she is - rather than trying to conform and shut out everything that she is. This story is all about realising that beauty isn't skin deep - it's so much more - and that you shouldn’t change yourself because of what others say and perceive you should be. 

“Go now, girl. Remake the world.” 

I absolutely adored the story so much from when Isabelle starts putting it all together. I didn’t find the world was all too fleshed out, but considering its set in (I'd guestimate) 1600/1700s France I suppose it doesn’t need to be - there's already an image you build up based on that knowledge and what you know Cinderella to be.  It feels like there's a second tale interwoven throughout between Chance and The Fates, its dark, and its enticing. I'd definitely recommend this book to others. 

Thank you to Hot Key Books and NetGalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I've read a lot of Jennifer Donnelly's books and loved them. This is my second, after 'These Shallow Graves', which was a great read!
So, this is definitely a fun fairy-tale read, creatively continuing the story of 'Cinderella' from one of the Stepsister's perspectives. The opening of the book was very cinematic with the Fates creating maps of people's lives, however their peace is soon shattered by Chance, a pirate-like figure, who bursts in to steal one of the maps. This draws us into the world of Isabelle de la Paume, one of the Ugly Stepsisters, who is described as selfish, mean and without beauty; a gauntlet is set down by Chance to change her fate.
The story then switches to the end of 'Cinderella', when the Stepsisters are cutting off parts of their feet to fit into the glass slipper and marry the prince. As we all know, that plan failed dismally and as Cinderella and the Prince ride off, Isabelle is left behind bleeding. 

Donnelly then weaves a tale of Fates, Chance, Death and a dark, live rabbit munching Fairy 'Godmother'! We are soon routing for Isabella, after understanding her life from her perspective more; we are soon on another fairy tale quest to defeat the villains! 

Isabella has to take a chance on changing her fate and find the strength and will to be responsible for her own destiny, of her own choosing and take back what her heart truly desires.  

Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre for the review copy.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really enjoyable and different Cinderella retelling, from the perspective of one of the stepsisters. The MC starts out as more of an antihero and I like that - there's so few female anti heroes in fiction. Isabelle wasn't always likeable but she was always relatable. And one of the themes - that of being plain in a world where women are supposed to be beautiful and just what it means to be excluded through no fault of your own - is especially well explored. Recommended.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley, Jennifer Donnelly and Bonnier Zaffre for my arc of Stepsister in exchange for an honest review. 

Synopsis: a reimagining of the Cinderella story from the perspective of one of the ugly stepsisters and themed more on the original (and more gory) Grimm's fairytales. Isabelle is turned away in shame when the prince discovers she has chopped off her toes in order to squeeze into the glass slipper. Isabelle has always felt like she cannot be herself, she is feisty and strong in a world that wants her to be demure and feminine, she is plain, in a world which wants her to be beautiful. As she has cut away pieces of herself over the years she has become jealous, heartless and cruel. Until she gets a chance at a new destiny and a chance to put the pieces of her heart back together. 

I have such a bunch of mixed feelings about this book. As a retelling it was well done. But also confusing. Not only was the original Cinderella story in there but also some Greek mythology and some other random stuff and it made it a bit messy. Fate here, chance there, fairy godmother who wasn't really a fairy godmother but a fairy queen who ate live rabbits. I get that the author was trying to make the tale darker but I always think sticking with one lot of mythology or legend works fine without bringing them all into the mix. 
In saying that, I wasn't a fan of Fate or Chance who didn't feel like they belonged in this story but I did like this darker faerie queen. 

The characters and the plot, this is the bit that has made me feel conflicted. On the one hand, I loved that Isabelle was secretly fierce and had all these different things going on, and that her mother has suppressed her and she'd got the opportunity to finally have a chance at a life of her own on her own terms. I loved that she was constantly told that beauty wasn't important and what was within is what counts. Absolutely these are things that we should be teaching girls. However, what I didn't like is the way being beautiful or pretty was spoken of in this context like it was a bad thing. In fact parts of it really felt like to be pretty was considered inferior which really isn't that just reversing the bullying? People can't help how they're born, be it plain or pretty, absolutely what's inside and the kind of person you are is the most important thing but that applies whether you are pretty or not. I don't think that the lesson here should be that pretty means weak or inferior. So yeah, I didn't like that. 

The story itself was ok, it felt like a short story dragged into a lot of pages but I enjoyed it. I didn't feel like I wanted to race to the end and it took me a few days to get through as it wasn't a page turner or exciting but I think part of the message in there is important if not all.
Was this review helpful?
Step into the Ugly Sister’s Shoes ~ Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

What happens to the Ugly Stepsisters after Cinderella marries the Prince? What causes them to dislike Cinderella so much? Who controls the lives of these characters? These are all questions Donnelly explores in her new book, Stepsister, as she attempts to unveil the truth behind the Grimm Brothers’ fairy-tale without compromising the magical and fantastical nature of the genre.

Chance, a dashing young man with a twinkle in his eye, places a wager on the life of Isabelle, one of Cinderella’s (or Ella’s) stepsisters, claiming that he can lure her away from her predestined path of destruction and allow her to make her own choices. However, Fate, depicted as withered and cruel crone, has other ideas. Isabelle, unaware of the forces that dominate her every move, must discover who she really is behind the title of ‘Ugly Stepsister’ and learn what matters to her most by fighting against a sexist society and her impending doom.

Donnelly cleverly uses the fairy-tale setting to explore gender-roles and identity but this is much more than a simple retelling with a feminist twist. Stepsister dives into its complex themes of identity and perception without losing sight of the magic and fun surrounding the genre. Donnelly successfully creates vibrant and vivid individuals that leap off the page from the dashing and whimsical Chance to the dangerous and elusive Fairy Queen. 

I highly recommend this book and encourage you to get lost in a world of fantasy where Chance, Fate, and other forces race against time to determine the ending of the Ugly Sister’s story.

I would like to thank #NetGalley for giving me a free copy of this text in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting retelling of the Cinderella story from the point of view of one of the "ugly" stepsisters, taking as it's starting point Ella's happy ever after ending.  The character of Isabelle, the stepsister, is sympathetic and at times quite poignant.  The story has a good pace and there are lots of twists and turns in the plot with a number of episodes of suspense.  An enjoyable read.
Was this review helpful?
*Arc given to me by Netgalley and the publishers*
I loved this book and cannot wait to get a finished copy of it. 
This book is retelling of Cinderella from the end of the fairytale. It is more based off the traditional fairy tale than the Disney movie from the mutilation that the ugly stepsisters do to their feet to fit it into the glass slipper. The story looks at Isabelle, one of the ugly stepsisters. 
I just really enjoyed reading this and how the characters have all had flaws but come through and how someone can change their fate to something better.
Was this review helpful?