The Stepsister Scheme
Author: Jim C. Hines
Release Date: January 6, 2009
Princess Novels Book #1
Format(s): Paperback (352 pages), e-book
We bought this book because…well, Gikany bought this book because she liked the cover while shopping in the bookstore and she told Una to read it while handing it to her.
From the author’s website:
“You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures until you finally reach that inevitable line: “And they lived happily ever after….” Guess what? It’s not true.”
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 own very secret service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy duty flirting.
Can the three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland’s most nefarious villains?
What Gikany & Una are talking about:
We decided to give you a review of this book simply because we feel it is our duty to ensure other genres are brought to your attention. We decided to stretch our wings because we believe strongly in variety and we know that so far TwiMom has focused on urban fantasy, romance and a few young adult novels. That being said, since our first post was Urban Fantasy, it wouldn’t be too far a stretch for you to be introduced to some pure fantasy.
The Stepsister Scheme is what we consider pure fantasy. It is set in the world of fairy tales, where Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty all exist and are real people. However, “happily ever after” is still just the fairy tale. We begin this story shortly after Cinderella’s (or Danielle as she is really called) honeymoon. For her, she thought she thought all the bad times were finally behind her. Sadly, this is not the case. Danielle is rudely awakened to reality when her stepsister Charlotte tries to kill her. She is rescued by the butt-kicking Sleeping Beauty, Talia. Please note, her beauty is only matched by her martial arts skills; suitors beware! Danielle survives the assassination attempt to only come to discover her husband, Prince Charming (Armand) has been kidnapped. Fearing for her love, Danielle teams up with Snow White (Snow – because she hates her given name: Ermillina) [**we agree this is an awful name, poor girl….sorry to anyone with this name**] and Talia to seek out and rescue Armand. Their quest sends them into the bowels of Fairytown.
In this first book of the Princess Novels, Mr. Hines takes our beloved fairy tales and turns them into a gritty and humorous ride. The world he has created is detailed and elaborate. There are multiple layers in each of the characters and places that call the reader to explore. It also shows, for those of us that grew up with the concept of happily ever after, that it, too, takes work and that the true definition of happily ever after is the one you create for yourself. In this book, the characters demonstrate that anyone can overcome truly horrific circumstances to find their own niche.
Despite the realistic traumas and obstacles during the adventure, Hines masterfully weaves a humorous and compassionate thread throughout keeping the reader glued to the page. The interactions between the main and minor characters help to ground the story, drawing the reader fully into the story. By the end, these fairy tale characters feel more like next-door neighbors than some whimsical princess in a tale.
The only drawback is the amount of detail that is packed into the storytelling. By the end of the book, Gikany felt she needed to reread it, simply because she felt she was missing something. Una, on the other hand, kept referring back pages while reading (one step forward, two steps back…and it’s the book cha-cha) and that can get a little tedious. However, we do agree it is worth the effort. Gikany says after rereading it the third time, you feel you’ve gotten all the details in and it is truly an enjoyable read. Una will let you know after the third dance, oops, read.
4.5 stars: Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)