Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Genre: YA Retelling
”Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.Goodreads Synopsis
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.
Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.”
Good start, but soon deflated like a sad balloon. During the first 25% of the book I actually thought I could love it. It got me to feel strong emotions and Isabelle shoved promise to be really interesting. But after that I felt no strong emotions, except maybe slight annoyance. Some things were good, fun and maybe a bit cool. But I never felt any of it. So this was not a thrilling or emotional read to me.
The magical elements of the story are interesting, but mostly feel unnecessary. And the competition between Fate and Change.. I don’t care for it. Almost everything that they did in the story took away tension and mystery for me instead of adding to it. And some things they did, like changing a road sign to make Isabelle take a different path, feels very Disney comedy in the worst way. The only supernatural character I felt really belonged here and added depth to the book was the Faery Queen.
Truth; I’ve never liked Cinderella as a character, because she’s boring. And now her stepsisters are going the same way. ”Mean”, ”Jealous” and ”Hollow”? More like impulsive, misunderstood and sad. I sooooo wanted to read about a really flawed character learning to embrace and control her impulses and traits to her benefit, but got a good little girl who’s been manipulated by her mother into doing things she never wanted and now has regrets.. And the older Stepsister? A intellectual genius hows always put down because she’s a woman. Oh! And Cinderella is not perfect and did a bad thing too!!
* screaming internally *
The France of Cinderella, where things like Fate, Death and Chance are actual characters that likes to play games with each other. And there’s faeries.
The language is great and I’m loving the dark fairytale aesthetics. But for some reason I can’t enjoy the book.. And that is hugely due to the fact that I find the ”chapters” to be really weird, annoying and ruins the flow of the story for me. There are around 130 chapters in this book and many of the breaks are completely unnecessary. In these breaks no time passes between, and some chapters are only a page long. Here’s an example;
Chapter 29 is only a page long and ends with: ”It was a man—dirty, thin and desperate.”
Chapter 30 begins: ”The man was holding a cloth sack.”
Why!? Seriously, this could have been a longer chapter without breaks. And there’s more of these! (Not all, but MANY!) This just pulls me out of the story and annoys the crap out of me.
To be clear; the book is good and could contribute a lot to young readers all over the world. And I want to love this book so bad!! But I can’t. I personally wanted more ”grit” and less ”purity” in the characters, and a big part of the book just felt unnecessary to the story. Plus that the chapter dividing kept jolting me back from the flow. (I never before thought a physical book could lag like a youtube clip back in 2005.. I’m almost impressed.)
I do give the book much love because of the themes of taking your own path in life and that “passion is beauty”. But I can’t help but feel that the story could have gone so much deeper and have more heart if some things were cut out. 3 stars.