The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett (2014)

It was the hardest winter Jane could remember. Mamma said that there had been a worse one when she was a girl. But in those days there had been servants to ride deep into the forest and fetch dry wood to stack in huge piles for cheerful fires, and there were woolen blankets and hot things to drink whenever anyone wanted them. Now it took all day to find a few logs that weren’t half-rotten, that could dry out in a day or two and provide some weak and smoky heat in the fireplace (p 99).

Stepsister's TaleThis delightful fairy tale retelling is quiet and small but enjoyable. Jane is the elder stepsister to the young beauty known as Cinderella. Isabella, is a spoiled child who knows little of the hard world until his father marries Jane’s mother. Jane and her sister, Maude, however, have learned to survive on little comfort, less warmth and whatever little food they manage to produce. Time are hard, and the Prince brings no relief. Instead, the girls find themselves caught between fear of the supposed fairies that dwell in the woods, the rough men of the wood and a corrupt Prince.

Though there is little in the way of action, this novel held my attention. I do, however, dislike the cover. It greatly misrepresents the story. I assume the publisher was trying to glamorize the girls to appeal to some empty-headed pre-teens. It’s just a totally blah and bleck cover.


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