Wednesday, January 20, 2010

REVIEW: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

So, I've just finished reading Jim C. Hines' The Stepsister Scheme and I've got to admit it had one of the most original spins on an old theme I've ever seen, basically taking the traditional fairy tales and twisting them in ways Christensen and the Grimm brothers never saw coming. The fairy tales, based off their original incarnations as opposed to the Disney-fied creations of today, Take Cinderella, for instance. We all recall how she was virtually enslaved by her Wicked Stepmother following her father's death and who doesn't remember Jacques and Gus helping their "Cinderelly" with her chores along with the other mice and birds. And then, with the aid of her fairy godmother, she sneaks out, goes to the ball, meets Prince Charming, runs off, losing a glass slipper, is found by the prince and happily ever after ensues. And for the most part, this holds true in Hines' adaptation. The fairy godmother is actually a tree enchanted with the spirit of Cinderella's mother, but otherwise is mostly in agreement - right down to Cinderella chatting it up with the household rodents and birds.The hitch arises when one reaches the "happily ever part."

After Cinderella (a.k.a. Danielle de Glas) accidentally has doves attack her stepmother and stepsisters at her wedding, the stepsisters seek revenge by kidnapping her prince and running off to fairyland. Fortunately, the Queen Beatrice has her super secret princess force (Bea's Princesses - like Charlie's Angels but with gowns and manners) to embark on a rescue mission. Sleepy Beauty is Talia, a desert princess turned ninja assassin extraordinaire; Snow White is a kickass sorceress whose magic is based on - what else? - mirrors and neither of them had their princes survive to live happily ever after so now work for Queen Bea, acting as bodyguards slash...well, they deal with security, enough said.

The story was from Danielle's POV and written in third person. Being just as new to the world as the reader, Danielle was the perfect narrator, always asking the questions the reader wanted answered, always having the necessary things explained to her which gave the story a different sort of flow than usually experienced. Indeed, if only Danielle wasn't so blasted nice to the point of being sickeningly so she'd've been perfect. Oh, and did I mention Danielle turns out to be pregnant? Husband MIA, off on wild adventure, evil stepsisters out to kill her AND pregnant - talk about a bad day.

With fairies interfering and making things worse, goblins being helpful and trolls a la Cousin It look, Hines' The Stepsister Scheme puts a unique spin on the fairy tales you thought you knew.

Book 2, The Mermaid's Madness, will be dealing with mermaids (yup, like Ariel only, you know, not) and is something I'm really looking forward to, especially if it goes anything like the first one. Also, look for the third book, Red Hood’s Revenge, to hit shelves in July and be sure to visit Jim C. Hines online here.

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