Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Review: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

Book cover of The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
Fairytale retellings seem to be the in-thing at the minute - lots of old stories have been remade into both TV adaptations like Grimm and Once Upon A Time, and also films like Mirror, Mirror and Snow White & the Huntsman. Still, retellings have always had a part in literature - this is actually my third such book this year. In fact, Bex from An Armchair by the Sea is doing a whole challenge around them! Jim C. Hines has a whole series of altered Fairytale books so the first one, The Stepsister Scheme, seemed perfect. It also helps that it's been on my TBR since August last year... I wish I'd got to it sooner!

You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach that inevitable line: "And they lived happily ever after..." Guess what? It's not true. Life in never-never land isn't all sweetness and light. Cinderella - whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas) - does marry Prince Armand. And (if you can ignore the pigeon incident) their wedding is a dream-come-true.
But not long after the "happily ever after," Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia - otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty - comes to the rescue (she's a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away.
That's when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her very own Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting.

Can three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland's most nefarious villains?

It has to be said - I loved this book and I can't wait to read the next in the series. The three princesses are an ass-kicking yet feminine group who set out to rescue Danielle's husband from her wicked step-sisters. Each of the princesses have new names and identities as though 'Cinderella' and 'Sleeping Beauty' were just names attributed to the rumours that follow them about. Danielle is Cinderella and Talia is Sleeping Beauty, although it does get a little confusing at first trying to remember who is who.

Their individual backgrounds are neatly worked in to the story - it's not always strictly relevant but it gives them all a nicely well-rounded presence. What made me appreciate it even more though, is the fact that their stories are the original Grimm ones - the fluffy, Disney ones don't even get a look in. It's obviously quite a light-hearted book - the cover tells you that, if nothing else, but this does inject the odd bit of darkness here and there. You know, Cinderella's birds peck out the Stepmother's eyes, etc. It's gruesome, but fun :D 

It's very pro-women - Queen Beatrice, the Charlie to their Angels, is a strong, intellectual ruler and obviously the three heroines are more than capable of functioning on their own. They accept help from men where necessary but they definitely don't need to be taken care of. The best thing is that it doesn't really make a point of this - there's no intentional feminist mantra being rammed down your throat. They just happen to be three very strong women rescuing their Prince and I like it.

It's is actually written quite well. I mean, it's hardly intellectual literature but the prose is engaging and good fun. It's light, accessible with a fast moving plot.

But my ultimate favourite thing about The Stepsister Scheme? This Amazon review:


Read the first chapter of The Stepsister Scheme on Jim C. Hines' website, or see what else I've read for this challenge.


  1. Lol this books sounds great I have never heard of it before! I shall have to look into this series and look for other reviews of it on goodreads or amazon.

    I'm glad you enjoyed this book so much and I really think you might enjoy Grave Mercy if you haven't yet read that one.

    Thanks for the great review.

  2. This sounds really good! :-) also, I am so addicted to Once Upon a Time at the moment it's a bit silly :-P

  3. Yikes I think I'll give up the idea of kiss-o-gram as an alternative career then!
    Sounds like a good fun book to cheer up these rainy days, I'll have to add it to my list.


Grab my Button

Booking in Heels

Booking In Heels Copyright 2008 Fashionholic Designed by Ipiet Templates Supported by Tadpole's Notez