This is a grim take on Cinderella. In this society, all girls (of a certain class, actual servants and peasants need not apply) must present themselves at the Royal Ball to hopefully be selected as a bride, as Cinderella was 200 years before. But this is not a happy fairy tale. Women are treated as second class citizens, or worse, and are completely controlled by their husbands. Women have no choice in their husbands – they are “claimed” at the ball by whoever wants them. They are to present themselves as if a fairy godmother had visited them and blessed them with a beautiful dress and shoes and hair and makeup and all that implies, whether they can actually afford it or not. And the cruel king encourages this.
Sophia wants no part of this charade. She would rather run off and marry her friend Erin, but that is not to be, especially since Erin is resigned to her fate of going to the ball to find a husband. That, and running away isn’t exactly encouraged.
At one point, we are left in doubt that magic even really exists at all. Well, it does, and the kind we see isn’t all magical sparkles and fancy dresses. (And since when have real fairies been known to be kind, anyway?) And the story of Cinderella is soaked in politics, because of course it is.
Sophia is also 16 and horny for hot women.
Oh, wow, there was a twist I did not see coming! Maybe other people won’t be as surprised as I was, but I have a feeling most people would have the same reaction I did, which was “Holy crap!” There was a lot I wasn’t exactly thrilled with in the story, but man, that twist kinda made it worth it.
So maybe give it a try, if fairy tale retellings are your thing, or even if they’re not, and let me know if the twist gets you too!