{Leah Reviews} Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Posted May 10, 2019 by Leah in Reviews / 4 Comments

{Leah Reviews} Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly


by Jennifer Donnelly
Pages: 352
Published on May 14, 2019
by Scholastic Press
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted

Also by this author: Deep Blue, Deep Blue, These Shallow Graves, Dark Tide, Rogue Wave

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.

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.

4 Stars

Stepsister is marketed as a feminist revision of Cinderella, with the incredible tagline of, “Don’t just fracture the fairy tale. Shatter it.”

And it does. Delightfully.

Ella is always seen as the beautiful, kind kitchen girl with mice for friends who accepts her place as servant in her own home. Her stepmother is always viewed as cruel, vain, and jealous of her stepdaughter. The stepsisters are always ugly, not only on the outside, but on the inside. We know who the definite good person and bad people are.

In Disney’s adaptation, the stepsisters were these awkward, screeching girls. Watching it as a kid, it was funny seeing the stepsisters try to shove their feet into the glass slipper in the movie. We’re supposed to laugh at their bumbling. You can imagine my surprise when I found out what the stepsisters really did to get their feet to fit in the fairy tale.

Each character is given more because they are more. This is the story of Isabelle, the youngest stepsister. When we first meet her, she’s preparing to fit the slipper on to her foot. Is this really what she wants though? As we learn, there’s more to this “ugly stepsister” than we could have thought. She has dreams. She has regrets. She cares for her family, even the stepsister she was cruel toward. She is so much more than what she is called, which is exactly why this book exists. It’s a look at what the world expects of this girl and what she expects of herself throughout. The journey is not pretty. The message layered throughout, however, is beautiful. I might have punched the air in glee once or twice. 😉

At first, I rushed through the pages, but near the last third, I had some issues with the pacing. It started to lag for me, which was strange because it was at the pivotal moment for Isabelle. But that’s a minor thing. This is a perfectly dark and delightful fairy tale retelling, just the type I adore.



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4 responses to “{Leah Reviews} Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

  1. I’m super-excited for this novel, and can hardly wait to get my hands on it. I love fairy tale retellings, especially when they center around a character, who was ignored, caricatured or misunderstood in their own novel, and this certainly seems like that case. Loved you review, though I’m sad the pacing lagged towards the end, but glad you still enjoyed it. 🙂

    Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical

    Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical recently posted: Reading the Biggest Books of Last Year

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