For those of you with little daughters who are coming up on Halloween, you are probably in the midst of dealing with princess mania. For those of you who don’t have girls, count yourselves among the lucky. I NEVER wanted to know this much about princesses….we know so much that I recently heard myself correcting somebody else on the color of each princesses’ dress in very serious tones. My feminist self rails against all that the princesses stand for (i.e. helplessness, waiting for a man to rescue them, wicked older women etc….) but my mommy self cannot deny that my girls love it and it is extremely hard to be all wicked mommy on them. This review is therefore to those other mommies (and possibly daddies) who are sick of the sacharine sweet Disney princess….
Title : The Stepsister Scheme (Bk. 1 of the Princess Novels)
Author : Jim C Hines
Three Words : Fantasy, fairy tale , action adventure
Red Flags : Some Violence (not gory) , some sexual situations
We meet up with Cinderella or Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas) AFTER her happily every after. She has married her prince and everything went great (if you don’t count a certain crazy pigeon incident). Soon after the wedding, Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte and being all princessy she is not so good at the defending herself. Luckily, Talia (aka Sleeping Beauty) comes to her rescue. But even she can’t fight Charlotte’s brand new magic powers, and the stepsister gets away. It is at this moment that Danielle discovers some disturbing facts : her husband has been kidnapped and magicked away to the faerie realm, she is pregnant and her MIL runs a secret spy agency that includes Sleeping Beauty and Snow White (hereafter called Snow). The three princesses band together to conduct a secret mission into the dangerous fairyland to rescue Danielle’s husband. Can they rescue Armand, get back before the baby comes AND maintain the delicate diplomatic relationship with the fairies?
Sound pretty good, right?? If you are like me, it is refreshing to read a story with princesses where not one man comes to their rescue. I really liked how differently this story is told using many of the old Disney fairytale conventions that we are familiar with.. Talia has all sorts of crazy fairy graces or abilities and is a fighting machine. Snow White uses magical mirrors to perform her feats of derring not to mention killed flirting abilities. Another thing that made it a fun read is that the princesses are totally bad-ass. However, this does come with a price…..The princesses all have some sort of intense PTSD issues from their ordeals – Talia views her fairy “gifts” more as curses due to the horrific way she was woken up and Snow lost the only man she loved (the huntsman) when her mother had him killed. Hines adds some new twists to the story – an unrequited love story from an unexpected character and the fairies being kinda evilish. All in all, the biggest thing I can say about this book is that it is fun. There is a lot of action here from one fantasy locale to another. Having said that, I think this is the book’s only downfall. This book is heavily plot-driven but very light on character development. While we do see Danielle develop from passive princess to a more forthright lady, we don’t get to see much more from Talia or Snow. And while you end up liking all the princesses just because they are fun, you don’t really develop the same interest in their well-being that you would with more developed characters.
Rating : 7 out of 10 shoes (stilettos that you really love but you can never wear cause you don’t really have any place to wear them 😉 )