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Book Review: Stepsister

Genre: YA Fairytale Retelling Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The synopsis of Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly drew me in right away. Cinderella’s stepsister cuts off her toes to try to fit into the glass slipper? What a novel twist on the classic story!

There were so many things I adored about this book! First off, possibly the most interesting aspect for me, was that Fate and Chance are actual characters in the story. Fate draws maps of people’s lives, effectively sealing their fates, but Chance steals Isabelle’s map in hopes of giving her a second chance. While Fate and Chance aren’t necessarily a huge part of the story, they added a compelling twist.

Additionally, Isabelle was a pretty likeable character. I appreciated the depiction of her struggles with her self-image. At the beginning of the book she believes that her greatest wish is to be pretty because she is used to being ignored. However, her wish slowly changes throughout the book. She realizes that people believed she wasn’t pretty because she was adventurous, daring, and strong-willed. She also comes to the conclusion that being pretty is not necessarily the most important thing.

Furthermore, while there was some romance in the novel, it took a backseat to Isabelle’s story, and I absolutely loved that! I enjoy fairytale retellings with romance, but I have to say, it was refreshing to read one that didn’t focus on romance. I truly believe that we need more books where a girl’s happily-ever-after is not a person, where she is allowed to have her own aspirations and dreams that are unrelated, or even contradictive, to love.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairytale retellings or fantasy in general!

Published by thebiasedbibliophile

I am a freelance editor and book-reviewer with a love for YA fantasy and science fiction. I have a passion for books that highlight underrepresented groups. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, I received a BA in philosophy in 2020 and enjoy reading philosophical texts in my free time.

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