[ARC Review] The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett

Friday, June 27, 2014

Title: The Stepsister's Tale
Author: Tracy Barrett
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Fairy Tale Retelling
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Release Date: June 24th 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

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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.

Fairytale retellings are some of my favorites in any category of book, including YA. But for me there can be very good re-imaginings and very bad ones as well. I find that the best one keep the concept from the original but either changes the characters or changes the setting. One of my favorite retellings of all time is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer because she keeps the overall story the same but she changed the setting completely. So when I read the synopsis for The Stepsister's Tale I knew I wanted to read it because seeing a story I know so well from another perspective was something I loved to read.

What I think I liked the most about this book was it connection with the original story. Not the Disney version but the Grimm Fairy Tale version, with the gruesome aspects and all. I liked the little nuggets you saw throughout the book that referenced the original and I loved reading that. I thought it was a great way to get a person who loves fairy tales interested in the book and its characters. I will also say that the author did a great job getting me invested early into the characters, and making me dislike "Cinderella" originally. That was a feat and honestly I did not expect to feel that way going in.

Unfortunately that is where my likes stop. Overall I thought that the story was slow in the beginning and I found that not much happens until the very end of the book. I found myself skimming the descriptions and going straight for the dialogue because honestly that is always my favorite part of a book. I felt that too much time past in this book, I think the books deals with years of these girls lives and I just thought it was too much for me to grasp and become invested long term when I really didn't get a chance to know any of the characters. I know I was supposed to dislike Cinderella, which I did and that was fine, but as for the stepsisters, I honest felt nothing for them. I did not get a chance to get to know them as people, they were always in direct contrast to Cinderella and I really didn't like that.

In the synopsis I was told there would be a love story that was untold in the original story, and I will admit that I was quite excited to read it because I do love a good love story. But sadly I hated this one because it felt forced from the beginning. Will was just OK, he did not illicit any emotions from me whatsoever and I could have cared less what happened to him and hos family. I think I felt like the story happened too quickly and if more happened within the book, and less attention was placed in Cinderella and how she differed from her stepsisters, then I might have cared more. I went into this book wanting a different perspective on a beloved story, but what I got was the story of two girls in the shadow of their stepsister and trying so hard to get away from that.

Ultimately this book was not for me. Although I liked the idea behind the story, the execution was not there to invest my interest enough to enjoy the book. I wanted a new and fresh story but what I got was a sad story of two girls that wished they could have it all, and sadly that wasn't enough for me.

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  1. Oh, too bad this one didn't work for you! I've been seeing mostly good things about it but it's always helpful to read a review from an opposite perspective. I hear you on forced love stories, it's very frustrating when the romance feels contrived and you're just not feeling the chemistry between the characters :(