Pros: Original; touching; hilarious; wonderful!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review copy courtesy of Penguin Group.
What happens after the “Happily Ever After”?
Cinderella’s prince has just gone missing, and she was nearly assassinated by her own stepsister. Her life was saved by Sleeping Beauty, one of the Queen’s operatives, and Snow White is helping them to find the prince with her mirror magic. It seems the prince might have disappeared into the realm of the Fairies, which makes for a touchy political situation—the three legendary princesses will have to go after him themselves. This is the rather bizarre premise behind Jim C. Hines’s The Stepsister Scheme. The title is cute, but if anything it’s a little flippant for what is ultimately a surprisingly touching and engaging book, so I have a niggling suspicion the publisher might have changed it in an attempt to grab at readers.
While this sounds like a silly, fun little book, I should mention that it does touch on a few dark subjects and sexual themes. It’s aimed at adults, and perhaps older teens.
The story is highly imaginative, with fun and engaging characters. It’s a wild ride worthy of any fairy tale, complete with wild flights, high-octane fights, good vs. evil (though not necessarily where expected), pixies, goblins, witchcraft, and more. Some of the “well-known” details of the original three fairy tales are subverted in imaginative ways (one of my favorites is the true identity of the seven dwarfs), and the process by which real events are changed into legends is examined in fascinating detail.
With all of this wonderful stuff, however, I’d have to say that the best part of it all is the complex relationship that develops between the wonderful characters.