I love gritty fairy tale retellings. I love “what comes after the wedding” fairy tale continuations. I love domestic dramas. So Charmed Wife seemed like a shoe-in. Cinderella 13 years after the wedding, hating her marriage and what comes next? Heck yes! Sign me up.
And at first it was good. No big surprises, Cinderella’s unhappy, her fairy godmother is a selfish letdown, the Prince is a cheating ass. I was ready to see what the author did with this mix. I’ve read it before in other books, with both good and bad takes, and I was hoping for something unique.
The Good: Hands down the mice. That’s right- Cinderella’s mice steal the book. Every other chapter or so the author revisits Cinderella’s loyal mice friends, who get hitched, have their own kids, and as generations go by, live out a surprisingly detailed and entertaining existence in their own mouse society. I could easily read an entire book just about the children of Nibbles and Brie. (If you love the Aeslin mice by Seanan McGuire, you’ll love these guys).
The Bad: This is one of those books where at the end, the author sacrifices a coherent plot for “the lessons learned along the way.” Lessons learned? Good. Character growth? Heck yes, dish me up! Hand-waving away everything for a squinty “maybe this happened maybe it didn’t but look at the lessons we’ve learned”?
Not my jam. I always feel like the author wrote themselves into a corner and decided to just kind of….hand wave it all away in favor of a grand metaphor/dream/vibe. All in all, I’m glad I checked this out from the library as opposed to my first impulse to buy it.