Sunday, August 16, 2009

Review: The Stepsister Scheme

So you think you know the stories of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? Sleeping Beauty? Cinderella?

Think again.

And what happens after the "Happy Ever After?"

Jim C. Hines takes us to the world of fairy tales with his newest series of books. It starts off with the book "The Stepsister Scheme," picking up after Cinderella's wedding. Things begin to get interesting when one of Cinderella's evil stepsisters tries to murder her in her own quarters, and then it's revealed that Prince Armand has been kidnapped and taken to Fairytown. It's then up to Cinderella and her two new acquaintances, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, to go and try to rescue him and bring him home. Complicating matters a wee bit is the fact that Cinderella 1)is pregnant, and 2)has no combat experience, unlike her two companions.

There is no shortage of action in the book, whether it's Sleeping Beauty trying to train Cinderella how to actually fight with a sword to confrontation with Cinderella's evil stepsisters or their minions along the way. It keeps you reading as you turn the pages to see what these three Charlie's Angels-esque characters are going to run into next. I know this book is fantasy, and in the land of make-believe and fairy tales, anything can happen, though at some points the usual suspension of disbelief can't be overcome, though, as things are just too conventient or over-the-top. One point of the book I don't care for is near the beginning as they are at Cinderella's former home and it turns out that her mother's spirit is in a tree in the backyard and ends up giving Cinderella her magical sword.

Otherwise, this is a great book and a fairly quick read, as Mr. Hines puts his own twist on the classic fairy tales. Sometimes, though, his twist may be a little bit too twisted--specifically regarding the method of which Sleeping Beauty says actually woke her up. In a way, it serves to illustrate that life is never as easy as it seems in the stories, that everyone is human, and bad things happen to good people. So, while the overall feel of the book is fun, there are dark elements to the story as well.