I don’t generally like fairy tale retellings, but I am loving Jim Hines’s new book, The Stepsister Scheme. Take a look at that cover. Cool, eh? Now let me tell you that those three women are Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. Aw, yeah! Now that’s my kind of fairy tale!
Most stories based on fairy tales spend a lot of time rehashing events we already know, but Hines doesn’t make that mistake here. When the book opens, his Cinderella is already married and trying to acclimate to life in the palace… complete with assassination attempts and fight scenes! (Here’s a PDF of Chapter 1 if you want to see for yourself.)
I know Jim Hines and his work well enough to know that his female characters are unlikely to be weak stereotypes, but still, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s just as easy to make female characters too kick ass and tough, and Hines avoids that pitfall with ease. His princesses are interesting women, different and strong in their own ways. It’s such a pleasure to read a novel where the women are fascinating, heroic, and actually plentiful.
To be honest, I’ve just started reading The Stepsister Scheme, but the book was just released and I couldn’t wait to share my enthusiasm. In fact, I’m gonna finish this entry now so I can go dig into the next chapter. :)