When Ellarose, Aralyn’s stepsister, asks her for help saving the kingdom, her first thoughts are of revenge. After all, ever since Ellarose married the prince and stole the future that Aralyn and her mother had planned for Aralyn, her life has been nothing but a misery. However, once she starts looking into the matter, she discovers a number of things that challenge everything her mother has taught her. Working together with a lady knight, Aralyn sets off to find a fey weapon that might be the solution to the kingdom’s problems, and she’s starting to wonder if there might be a place for her outside of her mother’s schemes after all.
This was a charming Cinderella retelling. I’ve read several over the years that focused on the stepsisters, but most of them haven’t really worked for me. I think it takes a careful balance when writing a redemption arc, and this book nailed it. Aralyn is a complex flawed character that you can’t help but like. She’s definitely realized that her mother’s way of thinking was flawed and the way she was raised harmed her, and she’s started to realize both the damage she’s done by following her mother’s teachings and that she doesn’t have to be the person that her mother wanted her to be. All of the relationships between Aralyn and the other women in the book are great. Her enemies to lovers relationship with Vee the lady knight is my favorite, but her growing sisterhood with Ellarose and her relationship with her fairy godmother Lyra are also wonderful. There are so great plot twists to this story as well.
This was a really effective retelling that had several layers to it. I’ve read a lot of retellings of Cinderella at this point and finding ones that do something new in a way that works for me is rare these days. This one may have some things in common with other books that focus on the evil stepsisters, but this is the first version of that that has worked for me which is nice as I’ve always thought it was an interesting idea to explore. I would definitely recommend this to any fairytale retelling fans. Four out of five stars.
CBR15 Passport: Different Genres/Subgenres – Fairytale Retelling
CBR15 Bingo: On the Road – Aralyn, Vee, and Lyra spend a lot of time traveling for their quest.