Book Review – Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

step sister‘In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters – a maiden, a mother, and a crone – are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life…’

Stepsister takes up where Cinderella’s tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella’s two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn’t matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty…

Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?


My rating: Cyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starNo-Star

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is the story of the ugly stepsisters and I loved every single second of it. It finally tells a story that makes sense to me, about why they are mean to Ella. I wanted more around the abuse that their mother was obviously putting them through, but other than that, it was glorious.

Isabelle is fierce and wonderful, but also bitter and angry. Tavi actually spoke to me more, as she is seriously into her maths (yay maths nerds! 💙) and doesn’t understand why she should ditch that for a husband. Girl, I hear that! Hehe. But Isabelle is a great lead, and I loved her interactions with Fate, Chance and the fairy queen. Her ending was perfect.

I also loved the play between Fate and Chance, they were so fun. Fate definitely comes across as the “bad guy” but I would have liked it to show a little more that she thinks she’s doing her job, so to speak. Though I liked her ending too. And we do see that a little, but I don’t like how she goes about it. Chance’s free wheeling, happier attitude is great, but actually in contrast to how he ended up in the situation. I liked him realising that actions have consequences and sort of want a whole book on him dealing with that more.

It’s a fun, easy read and one of the best Cinderella retelling I’ve seen. I also love that it starts almost at the end of Ella’s story, so it’s easier for it to work without tripping over reader expectations. Brilliantly done.


Buy Stepsister from Amazon UK.

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