I'm a big, big fan of fairy tale retellings and sequels and so forth. So when I stumbled upon this fantasy series by Jim C. Hines I knew it was for me.
The Stepsister Scheme tells the story of what happens AFTER the so called happy ending of Cinderella's (named Danielle in this one) story. Danielle is still struggling to adapt to her new life as a princess, when her beloved husband is kidnapped and taken to Fairytown. Knowing that her stepsisters are behind his disappearance, Danielle is determined to rescue him personally. She teams up with Snow White (a sorceress) and Talia, aka Sleeping Beauty, and embarks on a journey to take back her happily ever after.
Easily the most appealing aspect of this book is the girl power factor. Snow has some heavy duty magic, Talia is a fighting and weapons expert, and Danielle is no shrinking violet either. I enjoyed seeing Danielle try to come into her own, and learn not to be a helpless victim.
Hines implements plenty of whimsy, so this actually feels like a fairy story. There's sword fighting and curses, but there's also little gnomes and horses with wings. It's light and adorable, without being childish. At the same time, the tone of the story remains suspenseful, and has some grim moments as well. This isn't an easy balance to achieve, but I felt Hines pulled it off well.
This is what I would call a plot driven adventure novel. The one downside is that there's a certain lack of emotional connection. Even as Danielle was searching for the love of her life, the most powerful emotion I ever felt from her was determination. When emotional moments are attempted, they fall short, in my opinion.
If you like twisted fairy tales, or fantasy in general, I would definitely recommend this own. It's light, fun, and entertaining. 4 stars.