June 24, 2014
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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.
There have been plenty of fair, young maidens who, through no fault of their own, had evil stepsisters. We've heard their stories. Only, what if Cinderella wasn't such a fairy tale and Cinderella was not quite who she was made out to be.
And maybe, just maybe, that evil stepsister was not quite so evil.
Tracy Barrett's The Stepsister's Tale is that story.
It is a fantastic, wonderfully imagined and incredibly enjoyable twist on the classic Cinderella tale. The novel follows a similar story line with the same recognizable key points - the two sisters living with their mother, the marriage that brings a stepfather and stepsister, then the stepfathers death. It is in how things are viewed that this tale differes.
Jane, the stepsister whose tale this is, is a superb character. Already with a mother seemingly unable to face the reality of their current circumstances, a younger sister to protect and very little resources, new family members are not what she needs. Especially a spoiled little girl and a man happy to cater to her.
Part of the strength of her character is that she is her depth and complexity. In The Stepsister's Tale, the roles aren't reversed leaving Jane as the virtuous one, who can do no wrong. Instead, Jane struggles with her feelings towards Isabella - her new stepsister- her mother, and her responsibility. You feel for her while she is trying so hard to make everything work; you understand her frustrations, too. Yet, she does make mistakes.
From the wonderful characters to the very well imagined story, The Stepsister's Tale is an incredibly enjoyable read. The new, additional characters, effects of the time period and everyone's relationships add a new level to the story. You'll find yourself drawn to Jane and her story, eager to see not only how the 'Cinderella' elements of the tale unfold, but what happens to Jane. Will she suffer the usual 'evil stepsister's' fate or be granted a better future?
Whether you enjoy fairy tale retellings or not, The Stepsister's Tale is one not to miss. With more than enough creativity and unique story, it brings a brilliant twist to the known tale, but stands on its own, as well.
received from publisher through NetGalley for review - thank you