"What was true and what was story blended until nobody could say where one ended and the other began."
The Stepsister's Tale takes an entirely different look into one of the most popular fairy tales of all time; Cinderella. Admit it. When you were little, and you read Cinderella, you were entranced by the story of a young girl who grew up with evil stepsisters (Anastasia and Drizella) and a stepmother Lady Tremaine who was cold, and cruel to her after she lost her father. We know that Cinderella ends up meeting Prince Charming, marrying him, and living happily ever after. But, what if that wasn't the case?
This time around, the story is told from the POV of the so called evil older stepsister Jane Montjoy-Halsey, and it's not all lollipops and sugar plums. I think readers of this story will be surprised at how emotional you can get towards the characters after being spoiled by numerous retellings which all end basically the same way. In the original Cinderella, the stepsisters treated Cinderella (Isabella) like crap, and made her do all the work, while they sat around and had a grand ole time. In this edition, we get a entirely different view of all characters involved, and it is a surprisingly entertaining story with some definite flip flopping of emotions.
Jane and her sister Maude have lived within the shadows of what was once one of the oldest families around. They had money, they had stature, and they had loads of friends until their father died, and their world came apart at the seams. Jane and Maude now find themselves without maids, or servants, and end up doing all the major work themselves. They do all the cleaning, sewing, creation of their own clothes, chopping wood, milking cows, feeding chickens and doing their own laundry while their mother throws fits about what proper ladies should, or should not do. Then their world is quickly changed by the arrival of an interloper/new stepsister Isabella.
I had some interesting emotions towards Isabella when she suddenly shows up out of the blue and becomes a new sister to Jane and Maude. I don't truly blame Isabella for being such a pain in the ass at first. I would say it has to do with nurture, and the fact that her stepfather tried really hard to spoil her and give her anything she wants, while Jane and Maude struggling mightily to put food on their table.
In The Stepsister's Tale, Isabella is ONLY Thirteen years old, with a whole lot of learning about the real world yet to come. In the end, it is hard to imagine that Isabella is the one that Cinderella was written about because Barrett really twists the story in such different and surprising ways that you are left impressed by the chances she takes with the story. I was impressed with the fact that Jane changes her attitude towards Isabella in ways that will surprise you.
We all know that the stepsisters have always been equated with being evil. The Stepsister's Tale gives readers an entirely different view of Jane and Maude, and leaves a whole lot to be discussed. I liked that Barrett eventually gives Jane a romantic connection, as well as allowing her to speak for herself when everyone else has tossed her aside. I liked how the characters like Jane and Will are so used to hating and believing in the worst about the society they came from, that in the end, all that really matters is that they are both human, and are lonely, and looking for changes.
Author - Tracy Barrett
Title - The Stepsister's Tale
Published by Harlequin Teen
Released: June 24, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Format: E-book 272 pages