Young Adult/Fairy Tale Retelling
Available June 24th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
What really happened after the clock struck midnight?
Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.
When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...
From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett's stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.
The Stepsister's Tale is a joy of a retelling, twisting and turning the original story of Cinderella until we're left with no choice but to root for those who have previously been villains while hoping the beloved heroes of legends past get their comeuppance. What's so entertaining about this story in particular is the shift in focus from the fairytale romance to the family unit, allowing us greater access to the changing dynamics caused by the addition of new members and the loss of others. While the classic elements of the original tale have their place in this story, it's our viewpoint that's different, our time with Jane and Maude giving us a story more real and less sugarcoated, with characters who play their typical roles in a delightfully atypical fashion.
Jane, the eldest of the “wicked” stepsisters, is a young woman who has our unwavering support from the very beginning, forced to live with a mother whose delusions of grandeur seem only to increase the deeper their once-beautiful home and sterling reputation fall into disrepair. She holds their home together even as the woodwork crumbles beneath her fingers, ensuring her younger sister and mother (as well as all their livestock) are cared for to the best of her ability, and she manages to still hold her head up high even as her mother continues her harmful game of pretend. While she's noble and largely selfless, she's not irritatingly perfect in a way that makes us cringe after a quick internal examination reveals our own character flaws, she instead makes mistakes and gets into sisterly spats with both Maude and Isabella, but all of her imperfections only further endear her to us because they elevate her beyond the black and white ink of her story and into flesh and blood.
There's a mild romance between Jane and a boy from the woods named Will, but it's an extraordinarily subtle thread that simply brings a smile to our faces when Jane grants herself a few selfish moments to spend time with someone who views her differently than both her mother and sisters. Like all the other pieces of this Cinderella story, the happily ever after charmingly deviates from the happily ever after of so many little girls' imaginings, the focus on family and the various relationships between the girls remaining in the limelight even when the prince makes his play. Ms. Barrett has written a quick and enormously entertaining story with The Stepsister's Tale, perfect for picking up after a long day for all the sweet comfort it provides despite the darker moments and the challenges the girls face.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.