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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett

Fairytale retellings are possibly the trickiest books for me as a reader because I am a total fairy-tale junkie and hate when my favorite stories are trifled with.  How does an author reinvent a story while maintaining its integrity? It's a difficult task to write a successful retelling, but The Stepsister's Tale is quite possibly one of the best retellings I've ever read. Tracy Barrett has taken everything I love about the Cinderella story and twisted it into an extremely compelling and surprising tale. This isn't the Cinderella you grew up with, this is a much grittier and bolder version of the classic tale.

Once upon a time, there was a not-so-wicked stepmother and her two daughters named Jane and Maude. Their family was once highly esteemed and wealthy, but a series of unfortunate events led to the family losing their fortune and their estate becoming decrepit. In an effort to regain their high standing in society, their stepmother remarries a noble and the noble moves in with his daughter named Ella. Soon everything turns into a mess when this noble dies and Jane and her family is left to take care of Ella.

In the original versions of Cinderella, readers only felt contempt towards Cinderella's step-mothers and step-sisters. In this tale, the stepsisters and mother are in a terrible situation and are falsely viewed as maligned and despicable. I loved how Barrett allowed readers to easily empathize with Jane and her sister by allowing readers to see their side of the story. Characters that were merely caricatures in the original are given expanded roles and are shown in an entirely new light.

I love how this version of the tale has a feminist spin on it and how there's messages of female empowerment throughout this novel. I really enjoyed seeing how the sisterly bond between Maude and Jane developed throughout the novel; a lot of books seem to skip over familial relationships, but I loved how integral family was to this novel. Though there is a romance in this novel, it never detracts from the special sisterly bond that Maude and Jane share and it doesn't distract the reader from the plot at all.

Barrett cleverly ties aspects of the original tale into this novel in such a subtle way that readers might not notice these intricate details upon initially reading this novel. Readers who think that they'll be able to predict the outcome in this novel couldn't be more wrong. Though the basic infrastructure of the Cinderella story is here, so many of the tale's basic plot elements are turned inside out. Nothing happens quite the way that readers will expect it to happen and they will applaud Barrett for updating a classic tale in such an intelligent manner.

The Stepsister's Tale is an extremely clever, refreshing update on the Cinderella tale that I absolutely loved. You'll never look at Cinderella or her Prince Charming in quite the same way, Barrett doesn't give readers quite the happily ever after that readers have come to expect. I truly hope that Barrett reinvents another one of my classic fairytales soon because I loved The Stepsister's Tale.

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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2 People left their mark' :

  1. Thank you, Team Tynga! I love that you couldn't predict the ending--neither could I! I was actually surprised when it occurred to me. Look for my retelling of Snow White in 2015, also from Harlequin TEEN. Still working on (and happily accepting suggestions for!) the title--both MIRROR and FAIREST are already taken, darn it.

  2. One of the best fairy tale retellings you've ever read? It must be an awesome book then! I am definitely going to have to check this book out; it sounds really neat.