‘Stepsister’ by Jennifer Donnelly

I’ve read a lot of Jennifer Donnelly’s adult readership books and loved them. This is my second young adult read from this author, after ‘These Shallow Graves’, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I was intrigued to see how this particular fairy tale character would be re-invented.

This is definitely a fun fairy-tale read, creatively continuing the story of ‘Cinderella’ from one of the Stepsister’s perspectives. The opening of the book was very cinematic with the characters of the Fates in their tower room, busily creating maps of people’s lives, however their peace is soon shattered by Chance, a pirate-like figure, who bursts in to steal one of the maps. This draws us into the world of Isabelle de la Paume, one of the Ugly Stepsisters, who is described as selfish, mean and without beauty. A gauntlet is set down by Chance to change her fate.
The story switches to the end of ‘Cinderella’, when the Stepsisters are cutting off parts of their feet to fit into the glass slipper and marry the prince. As we all know, that plan failed dismally and as Cinderella and the Prince ride off, Isabelle is left behind bleeding. It’s her life after this events that is now the focus.

Donnelly weaves a tale of Fates, Chance, Death and a dark, live rabbit munching Fairy ‘Godmother’! We are soon routing for Isabella, after understanding her life from her perspective. The reader is soon on another fairy tale quest to defeat the villains!

Isabella has to take a chance on changing her fate, to find the strength and will to be responsible for her own destiny, of her own choosing, to seek forgiveness and take back what her heart truly desires and ultimately deserves.

Recommended YA read. With thanks to Zaffre books for the review copy.