Jim C. Hines – The Stepsister Scheme


publisher: DAW
published 2009
pages: 344

Book on Amazon


You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach that inevitable line: “And they lived happily every after …” Guess what? It’s not true. Life in never-never land isn’t all sweetness and light. Cinderella – whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (née Danielle de Glas) – does marry Prince Armand. And (if you can ignore the pigeon incident) their wedding is a dream-come-true.

But not long after the “happily ever after”, Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia – otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty – comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away.

That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her own very Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting.

Can the three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some fantasyland’s most nefarious villains?

In (Very) Short:

+ new, refreshing, and kick-butt take on the traditional fairy tale
+ mixture of Charlie’s Angels meets fairy tale princesses
+ an interesting new recreation of the storyworld and the individual tales
– took me a while to warm up to the characters
– maybe a little to drastic change for the young reader

My Opinion:

I have seen many retellings and versions of the traditional fairy tale on TV and lets just say not all of them were that great – some were simply bad. Given my experience I was reluctant to accept any form of fairy tale rewriting. But as they say: I can’t judge a book by its cover and may parents always urged me to judge only things that I know about or in this case have read.

So, with a rather negative predisposition I started this adventure and it was not as bad as I expected. (And given the book cover I expected bad.) It took me a while to warm up to the story and the characters, but I am very glad I read this book.

The recreation and reinvention of the fairy tales are interesting, logical, and necessary to understand the characters’ development into the versions they are in The Stepsister Scheme. The princesses themselves are not damsels in distress that need to be rescued but can rescue themselves and each other. The bond between the girls is refreshing, surprising, and not too stereotypical.

The fairy world so innate to the fairy tale is given a more detailed frame than in the traditional story. The world is far more complex and I hope it gets more attention in the following novels.

The story itself is a closed, but there are a lot more adventures and fairy tales that want to be retold.

Still, aspects of the retelling might be a little too much for the little ones.

Bottom Line:

This book is an interesting retelling of the traditional (in this case 3 traditional) fairy tales with kick-butt heroines, loveable side kicks, and some true love in the midst of things. I intend to pick up the next installment.


rating 3


2 thoughts on “Jim C. Hines – The Stepsister Scheme

  1. Pingback: End of Year Review | Franzi's Book Chase

  2. Pingback: My Top 5 Fairy Tale Retellings | Franzi's Book Chase

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