Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ARC Review: The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett

Goodreads summary:

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire. 

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett's stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

My review:

I'm a sucker for retellings, especially when they involve fairytales, so I knew I had to check out this book.  I'm so glad I did!  It was a charming, fast-paced read, and it really puts a unique spin on the story of Cinderella.

The storyline was a lot different than what I thought it would be.  Most of it revolves around Jane and her family struggling to survive.  But I enjoyed it because everything that happened was so unexpected.  This story doesn't go the same way the original fairytale does, and I loved that!  Plus, I like that the author introduced some new characters, like Jane's love interest and his family.  The romance wasn't too insta-lovey, as I'd been afraid.  Instead, Jane and the love interest (I can't for the life of me remember his name) develop a strong friendship before falling in love.

I liked the strong cast of characters.  They had their flaws, but they were each unique in their own way.  Jane is a good main character.  She's dependable, a hard worker, and easy to like.  The only thing about her that bothered me is that she's a bit of a pushover at times; she seemed too willing to whatever her mother said, and didn't stuck up for herself enough.  I felt so sorry for Jane's mother.  She refuses to realize that they are poor and instead keeps believing in illusions of grandeur.  It takes a while for reality to hit her.  As for Cinderella, I didn't know what to make of her - at first, she seems like a spoiled brat, but by the end of the story we see that there's more to her than that.  Although, I did feel confused by her character at times.  She was supposed to be about thirteen, but she could act much younger than that.

The writing was really good.  I loved the descriptions of the old mansion that Jane and her family live in.  I could picture it perfectly in my head.  I thought there was a great balance of dialogue and description.  Admittedly, some sections of the book can be a little slow, such as the long winter that takes place in the middle.  But overall, it was pretty fast-paced and surprisingly entertaining.

The Stepsister's Tale was a fun, unique read.  It's nice to read a retelling that sticks out with its originality.  I liked the character arcs and the way all the characters grew and changed throughout the story.  And the ending was not what I expected at all.  If you enjoy classic fairytales or retellings, this is definitely a book you want to read!

*I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

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