Series: Tales from the Kingdom
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Published by: Titan Books
Release date:April 28th 2015
Length: 187 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy tales
Why I read it: I’ve been seeing it in the book store for a few years, and I love fairy tales
What it’s About: In short, this is a retelling of the Cinderella story. Cinderella lives with her father, yep, he’s still alive, and useless, step-mother, Esme and step-sister Rose. Yep, only one. the other step-sister, Ivy, has gotten married and moved out. After her mother died, her father fell in love with Esme, and Esme, in turn, fell in love with, and left her husband for Cinderells’s daddy. That in turn led to a fall from grace for Esme, Ivy, and Rose. An undisclosed number of years later, and Cinderella has become the housekeeper of the family. One night, her friend Buttons come by to drop off a gift of coal that he’d stolen from work and informs Cinderella that the mouse that has come in from outside has been following him for a while, and he doesn’t think it’s an ordinary mouse, and we get the first glimpse of a more…Ahem…adult side of Cinderella. Next day or so, All the ladies of the house learn that there is to be a ball at the palace. Rose and step-mother attend, and Cinderella’s jealousy rears it’s ugly head. Another two weeks, and there are to be two more balls, this time to find the prince a bride. As before, Esme and Rose prepare, and attend. And Again, Cinderella’s jealousy is present. This time however a mysterious woman appears and cracks a walnut over her, and she transforms. Well, her clothes do. The fairy godmother gives her two more walnuts to break open, one for the next night for the second ball, and a black one to use if her dream doesn’t turnout the way she’d hoped. Before disappearing, the FG says that as a payment for her help, once Cinderella gets her prince, she must search the castle. She’ll know what she’s looking for once she finds the item. So, Cindy goes to the ball, meets the prince, and seemingly falls in love. Same thing the other night, except Something almost happens before the clock starts chiming midnight. Cindy loses a shoe, and the prince’s search of the kingdom ensues, and the Cinderella family learn that the prince’s foot men (no pun intended) will get to their house in two weeks time. Meanwhile at home, Esme is throwing the world’s biggest tantrum over Rose not catching the prince’s eye, which she did before Cinderella showed up to the ball, but as the Brandy song says “almost doesn’t count” in Esme’s eyes, so she’s making everyone miserable, which results in Rose doing everything she can in order to fit into the shoe, from binding her feet to trying to cut off her toe. Ant that is where I’m going to leave the synopsis, so I don’t give away spoilers.
What I liked: This was not your typical retelling. There were parts where I really liked Cinderella. She was Sympathetic to Rose, but also jealous and didn’t mind stabbing her in the back. She was a sexual person, as was shown when her and Buttons, with her and the prince, and even once in the bath, I loved she wasn’t portrayed like an innocent little girl, because she wasn’t. Rose even said Cinderella had been spoiled, and Cinderella scoffed at the notion. I liked that there was a happy ending, but it wasn’t one that was expected. There were elements of the Disney version of the story, and the Grimm’s version, but there were also new elements to add to it as well. There were nods or mentions to other characters from other stories. There was a hint of Robin hood and Hansel and Gretel. I’ll be honest. When I bought this book, I didn’t know that it was the second in the series. I knew there are two other re-tellings of Snow White and Sleeping beauty, but I thought they were all stand alone books. That said, I loved that even after learning that is was indeed a continuation of the first book (at least from what I could tell), it still could be a stand alone book. As far as I know there aren’t many mentions of events from the first book, so I never felt lost or like I’d missed something during my read of the book.
What I didn’t like: Sometimes the twists or reveals were way too obvious. I saw them coming before the halfway point in the book. They slapped me in the face. And don’t get me started on Cinderella’s father. He was more than useless in the book. I don’t understand why he was even in the book. There was a scene in the book where Cinderella is looking for comfort from her dad, and while he gets points for not sugar-coating the truth to Cinderella and treats her like an adult, he didn’t have to be a dick to her. The other half of the time he was a pushover. It was clear that Esme didn’t respect him, and he sat and took it! not only that, but he let her torment Rose, and spend money they didn’t have to get Rose ready for the ball, but didn’t speak up about Cinderella.
Things I have mixed feelings about: There were some plot points that just didn’t seem important to me. The first chapter of the book is about kids going into the woods and disappearing. It is revealed what it is that is making the kids vanish, but except for a few mentions here and there, there isn’t a point to have it as an issue. Also, the troll road. Again mentioned a few times, even used in a chapter, but except for making it known that it is a place a person wouldn’t want to be sent, there wasn’t a real point to it. Maybe these are things that were more prominent in the first book, but I didn’t read it, so it was lost on me.
Would I reread it? Maybe after I read the first book.
Would I purchase it? I did purchase it.
Would I recommend it? Already done that too.
Love it or Leave it? Liked it, but didn’t love it. It was a quick read, and there was enough to make it a new story, it just wasn’t what I expected.