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What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with "Charlie's Angels?" Hines delivers a new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. Original. == You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with "Charlie's Angels?" Hines delivers a new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. Original. == 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 ever 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 (nee 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 very own Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting. Can three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland's most nefarious villains?


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What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with "Charlie's Angels?" Hines delivers a new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. Original. == You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with "Charlie's Angels?" Hines delivers a new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. Original. == 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 ever 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 (nee 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 very own Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting. Can three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland's most nefarious villains?

30 review for The Stepsister Scheme

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anzu The Great Destroyer

    Indulge not overmuch in wine or beer. Pick not thy nose, scratch not thy rear, and all shall say “A lady sits here.” A true lady’s lesson in life. Only one of my Goodreads friends read this book. Of course this made me think that maybe it won’t be so good. Why else would people not know of The Stepsister Scheme? Why else? I’ll tell you why else. Because of all this mainstream crap that’s flying around, that’s why! I enjoyed this book so much. When I first read the summary I instantly fell in Indulge not overmuch in wine or beer. Pick not thy nose, scratch not thy rear, and all shall say “A lady sits here.” A true lady’s lesson in life. Only one of my Goodreads friends read this book. Of course this made me think that maybe it won’t be so good. Why else would people not know of The Stepsister Scheme? Why else? I’ll tell you why else. Because of all this mainstream crap that’s flying around, that’s why! I enjoyed this book so much. When I first read the summary I instantly fell in love with it. And it did not disappoint. It’s action-packed, beautifully written, the world building is breathtaking and the princesses… They rocked so hard that walking into Mordor became possible. So let’s have a summary of Disney’s take on the three princesses. I hate Disney’s version of Cinderella because: Terrible living conditions and does not say a word. She is saved by a prince who forgets what she looks like after a night. He marries her because she is beautiful. I hate Disney’s version of Snow White because: She's killed because she is too hot. Which is also the reason she's still alive nowadays. Not her brain. No. Her hotness. I hate Disney’s version of Sleeping Beauty because: Sex is her only salvation. Now have a look at Hines’ version of these fantastic ladies: Cinderella aka Danielle, wild-hearted sword wielder. Snow White aka Snow, sorceress and sex goddess. Sleeping Beauty aka Talia (my favorite), heartless mercenary extraordinaire. Thank you Mr. Hines *shakes his hand* it’s good to finally see someone teaching Disney a lesson. It’s time for the prince to be a damsel in distress. It’s time for the princesses to kick some serious ass!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    One of the more recent cultural phenomenon is the rise of the Disney princesses. Everywhere you look, you see young girls wearing Disney Princess gear. On Halloween, young girls dress up as Belle, Aurora, Cinderella, and Snow White. Even Mulan has been declared an honorary princess (how, I don't know. Can someone explain it to me?). Some women have expressed concerned about young girls being, well, girly, and lacking good role models. The Disney princesses, in other words, seem to be a tamer ver One of the more recent cultural phenomenon is the rise of the Disney princesses. Everywhere you look, you see young girls wearing Disney Princess gear. On Halloween, young girls dress up as Belle, Aurora, Cinderella, and Snow White. Even Mulan has been declared an honorary princess (how, I don't know. Can someone explain it to me?). Some women have expressed concerned about young girls being, well, girly, and lacking good role models. The Disney princesses, in other words, seem to be a tamer version of the Barbie doll. I'll admit I have a soft spot for some Disney movies. Yes, I know some of them, especially the older movies, put forward stereotypes of the good woman, but some of the art is wonderful. I love Fantasia, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and strangely, Sleeping Beauty. With Sleeping Beauty, I think it’s the humor and the artwork. Additionally, while the princess needs rescuing, the prince would not have been able to rescue her if it hadn't been for the three fairies, three older women. (I also use to play with Barbie who usually drowned in her pool or got trampled by her horses, unless I was washing her hair with eggnog). I, however, can also understand the concern about the whole princess market. (Though I would love to get in on it. Do you realize how much money Disney has to be raking in?). It seems that Jim C. Hines is also slightly upset about it and decided to write a book where the princesses kick butt, metaphorically speaking (though there was a strategically placed kick). The book is pretty good. Sometimes, it seems a little slow, but not too much. It's funny, dark, and good. Hines takes the characters of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty and brings in the older, less nice and clean, versions of the tales. The action starts quickly as Danielle (aka Cinderella) must save herself from an assassination attempt at the hands of her step-sister (a plot point taken from less well known Cinderella variants). Danielle is saved, in part, by Talia (Sleeping Beauty. Her name comes from the story "Talia, the Sun, and the Moon". If you've read that version, you know why Talia has a chip on her shoulder. If you haven't, Hines will tell you eventually). Talia introduces Danielle to Snow (White, that is.) and reveals that both women work for Queen Beatrice (Queen Bea). What then follows is a story about princesses rescuing a prince. What I enjoyed must about the book was the character types of the three women. Talia, Danielle, and Snow are three different people, each with their own strengths and weakness. Snow could be the traditional loose woman, except Hines does her far more justice than this. She is likable. Talia could simply be the woman with the chip on the shoulder who is really soft hearted, but Hines does her more justice than this. Danielle could be the simple, naive, kind hearted girl, but Hines does her more justice than this. Danielle is shown to have cunning, and while she is not as skilled as her two friends, she is just as important. (Her interactions in Fairy Town with fairies are great fun to read). Snow likes men and clothes, but she knows her business. Talia may have a chip on her shoulder, but she is not covering a soft heart. In many ways, she is the most complex character. I love the fact that Hines talks two of the most passive fairy tale heroines (Sleeping Beauty and Snow White) and makes them really active. While the male characters have some roles, they don't come off badly. When the reader finally meets Armand (Prince Charming) he is worth the loyalty of both his wife and mother. King Theodore comes across as a wise king and a good man. While this is a book that showcases women as the heroes, the men aren't lacking either. Like most fairy tales, the story also makes use of some dark plot points. Hines takes a good look at the cost of things. There are some loose plot threads, but this seems to be a series, so hopefully they will be tied up. If you're tired of the Disney princesses read this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bob/Sally

    While I'd had The Stepsister Scheme on my radar for while now, it was only because of Jim C. Hines social presence that I finally decided to give it a try. Whether he's poking fun at fantasy cover poses, talking about important topics like depression and diversity, or demonstrating the absurdity of the sad puppies mess, he's a clever geek a with a good head on his shoulders. I wanted to like his fiction, and it may be that I just picked the wrong book to begin with, but The Stepsister Scheme fell While I'd had The Stepsister Scheme on my radar for while now, it was only because of Jim C. Hines social presence that I finally decided to give it a try. Whether he's poking fun at fantasy cover poses, talking about important topics like depression and diversity, or demonstrating the absurdity of the sad puppies mess, he's a clever geek a with a good head on his shoulders. I wanted to like his fiction, and it may be that I just picked the wrong book to begin with, but The Stepsister Scheme fell flat for me. It was OK . . . a half-decent way to pass the time on the train or at the park . . . but it never really excited me or engaged me. In terms of subject matter, it reminded me a bit of early Mercedes Lackey, but without her dramatic narrative flair. I guess it was all just a bit too simplistic for me, a cute story that settled for a serviceable telling. For those not familiar with the book, Hines looks at what happens after the fairy tales end, giving us a world where there are no simple happily-ever-afters. When Cinderella's husband is kidnapped by her ugly stepsisters, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty swoop in to help save the day. Unfortunately, what could have been a kick-ass tale with the spirit of Xena behind it is, instead, a weaker sort of book that's more reminiscent of the comedic reboot of Charlie's Angels. That sarcasm and wit that I've come to appreciate in his blog posts is missing here. What's left is fun in small doses, but entirely too light and fluffy to work as a full-length novel. If you're new to fantasy, prefer fairy tales to epics, or are more inclined to YA/NA fiction, then you might very well enjoy The Stepsister Scheme. I can see the appeal, it just didn't work for me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    I first heard of Jim Hines when someone forwarded me this blog where he attempts to recreate sexy cover heroine poses: http://www.jimchines.com/2012/01/stri... He seemed pretty cool so I decided to read one of his books. This one was a relatively random choice, and I don't know how it compares to his other books. I'm sorry this wasn't published when I was in high school, because I'm sure I would have loved it then. At this point in my life this wasn't genuinely a 4-star read in terms of my enjoy I first heard of Jim Hines when someone forwarded me this blog where he attempts to recreate sexy cover heroine poses: http://www.jimchines.com/2012/01/stri... He seemed pretty cool so I decided to read one of his books. This one was a relatively random choice, and I don't know how it compares to his other books. I'm sorry this wasn't published when I was in high school, because I'm sure I would have loved it then. At this point in my life this wasn't genuinely a 4-star read in terms of my enjoyment. There are things that are a bit heavy-handed in terms of plot, prose, extreme evilness of villains. But there was a lot to like, too! Women who are strong in different ways, and not only by having magic power or martial skills. Friendship and cooperation. Thinking outside the box. Different lifestyle choices for different people, none of which are judged as "wrong" except for the one that involves stealing other people's bodies. I would definitely recommend this for a mature teen looking for fantasy with strong girls. And by mature I don't mean that there's a lot of adult content (there isn't, although sex is mentioned but not portrayed) but mature in terms of emotional behavior -- this is about a wife facing danger to rescue her husband, not a prettyprincess falling in love -- and with the note that there are some moderately dark elements, especially in terms of the backstories. I'm not rushing out to buy another Hines, but I am adding him to my tbr list for later.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cait

    I really love retold fairy tales, but I also have what I think should not be a terribly picky rule: a clever concept is not a substitute for a story. A disappointingly large number of so-called "fractured fairy tales" fail this simple test, and the cover art and blurb for this book were not very promising, to the point where I would not have picked it up at all if I hadn't been rather impressed with this author's book Goblin Quest , which had a clever concept and a very good story. This book I really love retold fairy tales, but I also have what I think should not be a terribly picky rule: a clever concept is not a substitute for a story. A disappointingly large number of so-called "fractured fairy tales" fail this simple test, and the cover art and blurb for this book were not very promising, to the point where I would not have picked it up at all if I hadn't been rather impressed with this author's book Goblin Quest , which had a clever concept and a very good story. This book does not have a story which is that good; it's decent, but nothing exciting, and frankly if I hadn't already had my expectations lowered by the cover I might not have finished it. On the other hand, there was a lot of heavy exposition coupled with many, many threads left dangling, which means that sequels would be starting from a much nicer place, story-wise. I'll keep an eye out, and in the meantime I don't disrecommend this book to fairy tale fans.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is very light, very enjoyable fantasy. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but it reminded me of Terry Pratchett and Bill Willingham and Piers Anthony (not the pervy Piers Anthony, which is to say, 90% of his output, but the guy who occasionally writes about female characters without drooling on his keyboard). Danielle Whiteshore is the "Cinderella" of legend. She married her Prince, they got busy on their wedding night, and just when she's starting to think it really is a dream co This is very light, very enjoyable fantasy. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but it reminded me of Terry Pratchett and Bill Willingham and Piers Anthony (not the pervy Piers Anthony, which is to say, 90% of his output, but the guy who occasionally writes about female characters without drooling on his keyboard). Danielle Whiteshore is the "Cinderella" of legend. She married her Prince, they got busy on their wedding night, and just when she's starting to think it really is a dream come true, her two stepsisters show up and try to kill her. And kidnap her prince. It turns out, of course, that her stepsisters are working for a more sinister power. Danielle wants to go rescue him. Her mother-in-law, Queen Beatrice, calls upon a couple of ladies who are also guests of her castle: Ermellina Curtana, aka "Snow White," and Talia Malak-el-Dahshat, aka "Sleeping Beauty." Of course there is a lot more to their stories as well. The woodcutter, the dwarves, the enchanted slumber, etc., are all much darker than the Disney version. The three of them go on a quest to rescue Prince Armand from fairyland. The best part of the book was not the adventure, although that was fun and fast-paced. It was the three fairy tale princesses with very different personalities who bonded, learned from each other, and acted like the heroes in a buddy film, always like women but not ostentatiously drawing your attention to the fact that they are Chicks! Adventuring! This isn't a Buffy-like allegorical feminist fantasy. They just ride forth and kick some evil witch-queen butt. The characterization of the main characters and the minor ones alike was engaging all the way through; Jim Hines made them real and believable despite openly flirting with all your Disneyfied expectations. The tale turns dark when it needs to, but this is not grimdark fantasy. There's some bloodshed and sacrifice, but the Princess must rescue her Prince — that's how all fairy tales end, right? This is not breaking new grounds in fantasy literature by any means, but if you like this kind of fantasy, I recommend it highly, it's an author enjoying himself with the genre.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brownbetty

    I wanted to like this book. Hines is one of a few authors whose internet presence doesn't come across as an egotistical gasbag, and you cannot imagine how this predisposes me to liking him. But this book! First, obviously, lots of people do like this book, since it has sequels, and his editors presumably know their business, but I could not. I made it through the first two chapters only by mentally writing increasingly hysterical editorial directions to Hines, at which point I gave up. This book' I wanted to like this book. Hines is one of a few authors whose internet presence doesn't come across as an egotistical gasbag, and you cannot imagine how this predisposes me to liking him. But this book! First, obviously, lots of people do like this book, since it has sequels, and his editors presumably know their business, but I could not. I made it through the first two chapters only by mentally writing increasingly hysterical editorial directions to Hines, at which point I gave up. This book's problem for me was that it is composed of the characters from familiar fairy-tale stories, post-story, coming together and fighting crime. (Or something. I dunno, I gave up on the second chapter.) This requires the book to have a coherent world in which these characters can co-exist, and to flesh out the fairy-tale characters who exist in their original forms mostly as cyphers. In this book, this is done by having each fairy-tale princess tell how she came to be where she is, post-fairy-tale, and the result is massively un-engaging. Since the reader is already (presumably) familiar with the shape of their fairy-tales, a lot of it seems like a retread, and the variations do not, to me, justify the words spent, especially when the exercise is repeated three times. It is a solid chunk of exposition that although it was traumatizing to the character, is so familiar as to be boring to the reader. It reads like having someone tell me about their RPG character and her exploits, and keep in mind, I find RPGs a less interesting use of my time than cleaning the rain-gutter. Again, obviously, this book is liked by enough people that the publishers bought a sequel! Possibly I am simply the wrong audience. Possibly people who like RPGs will like this book?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Jim C. Hines is honestly one of my favorite authors, even though he's never written a book that I've lost my mind* over. What he writes is solid, fun fantasy with a strong feminist backbone. He also seems to have a thing for championing the underdog, and writing stories that subvert traditional story-types. The Princess series, of which I've read all but the last book at the time of writing this review, is particularly notable as all the main characters are ladies, and a significant part of the Jim C. Hines is honestly one of my favorite authors, even though he's never written a book that I've lost my mind* over. What he writes is solid, fun fantasy with a strong feminist backbone. He also seems to have a thing for championing the underdog, and writing stories that subvert traditional story-types. The Princess series, of which I've read all but the last book at the time of writing this review, is particularly notable as all the main characters are ladies, and a significant part of the narrative involves Hines re-framing fairy-tale narratives to give agency back to their heroines. *Although, I do have high hopes for the forthcoming Revisionary, since the third Magic Ex Libris book was SO CLOSE to being perfect. The Stepsister Scheme has two main narrative goals: set up the world and the characters so that Hines can play around in it in books two and three, and to turn the Cinderella story on its head. He does both with the introduction of his Cinderella, whose name is Danielle Whiteshore (formerly Danielle de Glas, her deceased father was a renowned glassblower). Danielle is having a hard time adjusting to life as a royal (she identifies more with the servants than the nobles), and then her stepsister tries to kill her using newly acquired magic, and which ultimately leads to the kidnapping of her prince, Armand. This brings Snow (Snow White) and Talia (Sleeping Beauty) into her life. Both young women have been living at the palace incognito as the Queen's special "bodyguards," all the while secretly helping her spy and take out threats in a more covert way. Both ladies are living in exile from their own kingdoms, Snow taking refuge from the political chaos the murder of her mother the Evil Queen caused, and Talia is there because basically Hines went all the way back to the original Sleeping Beauty story which is FUCKED UP, and I don't want to say any more than that here because spoilers. (Will say more in my review of Red Hood's Revenge.) I pretty much fell in love with Talia and Snow immediately upon meeting them, but this is really Danielle's book. She insists on accompanying Talia and Snow to fairyland and back in order to rescue her prince. It's also here that she takes back her own story. The fact that she fell in love and married Armand in the space of a month, and the whole thing with the glass slipper, makes sense simply because Hines takes the time to flesh out Danielle and make her into a real person. Plus, he also gives her the beyond cool magical power of being able to talk to animals and persuade them to help her. She also proves very intelligent when dealing with the fairies, who are notoriously tricky, and she manages to save the day without compromising her kind heart and compassionate spirit. I zoomed through the first three books in this series in a period of four days, so you know it's gotta be a fun time. If you're at all susceptible to fairy-tale retellings, check this series out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    This is not a goblin book like Jim's three other books, Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero, and Goblin War. You may have been clued in by the three kick-ass women on the cover. Remember that scene in Shrek 3? The kick ass one with Led Zeppelin in the background? Okay, imagine that - except funnier, with more plot, and fully realized characters. And more actual fairy tale stuff. This book is what that one scene wants to be when it grows up. The women are fully realized people, the action is packed, and the This is not a goblin book like Jim's three other books, Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero, and Goblin War. You may have been clued in by the three kick-ass women on the cover. Remember that scene in Shrek 3? The kick ass one with Led Zeppelin in the background? Okay, imagine that - except funnier, with more plot, and fully realized characters. And more actual fairy tale stuff. This book is what that one scene wants to be when it grows up. The women are fully realized people, the action is packed, and the jokes are funny. A highly recommended book for all fans of fantasy and kick-ass women.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    I am glad I finally read a Hines book, cos this was funny. And it was fantasy! And it was fairytales. Danielle aka Cinderwench aka Cinderella finally got her prince. And all is well. Well for a time. Danielle was sweet, she was nice, she was nicer than I would have been, but hey she could throw a punch (not always literally) too. Armand her prince, well he was not in it a lot since the poor bastard got himself kidnapped. Silly men always getting kidnapped so the women has to do the dirty work. Talia I am glad I finally read a Hines book, cos this was funny. And it was fantasy! And it was fairytales. Danielle aka Cinderwench aka Cinderella finally got her prince. And all is well. Well for a time. Danielle was sweet, she was nice, she was nicer than I would have been, but hey she could throw a punch (not always literally) too. Armand her prince, well he was not in it a lot since the poor bastard got himself kidnapped. Silly men always getting kidnapped so the women has to do the dirty work. Talia aka sleeping beauty has a chip on her shoulder, but sure is good at her job. Snow White, is a flirt, but great with magic. Together these three must find Armand. Kick some butts. Meet some fairies. Meet some baddies and see if they can fix that Happily Ever after. Totally reading more of these.

  11. 4 out of 5

    vLadimiR

    I really wanted to like this book and was even initially excited when I got it. Sadly it didn't turn out well for me. I felt like I had to force myself to read because once I start, I don't want to leave a book unfinished. For one, the story focused heavily on description. It mostly details sequences for the majority of the story which would've been okay the plot had been a bit more complex. However, the story could be summarized as: Cindrella's prince gets kidnapped, Snow White & Sleeping beauty I really wanted to like this book and was even initially excited when I got it. Sadly it didn't turn out well for me. I felt like I had to force myself to read because once I start, I don't want to leave a book unfinished. For one, the story focused heavily on description. It mostly details sequences for the majority of the story which would've been okay the plot had been a bit more complex. However, the story could be summarized as: Cindrella's prince gets kidnapped, Snow White & Sleeping beauty help her get the prince back and everything goes back to almost normal. It felt like a single chapter drawn out to unreasonable lengths with sword fights, hand-to-hand combats and mystical battles interspersed in between just to fill the three hundred or so page quota The character development was very poor and completely unrelate-able which was surprising given that these characters are already known literary icons. The authors attempt to re-invent each individual's well known plot by morphing each character's back story into something sinister just felt like a perversion of their origin.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Briar's Reviews

    The Stepsister Scheme is a crazy, comical and thrilling take on fairy tale lore we've all heard before. Fairy tales? Yeah, those things you read as a kid? Most of them are wrong! Those incorrect stories are being retold in a fantastical, adventure filled story that will leave you breathless! Three of our favourite princesses, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, come together like Charlie's Angels to rescue Cinderella's husband - Prince Armand. Danielle, Cinderella, married Prince Armand an The Stepsister Scheme is a crazy, comical and thrilling take on fairy tale lore we've all heard before. Fairy tales? Yeah, those things you read as a kid? Most of them are wrong! Those incorrect stories are being retold in a fantastical, adventure filled story that will leave you breathless! Three of our favourite princesses, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, come together like Charlie's Angels to rescue Cinderella's husband - Prince Armand. Danielle, Cinderella, married Prince Armand and seemingly escaped from her brutal step sisters, but unfortunately she truly didn't. They kidnap Armand which causes Danielle to go on a quest. Talia, Sleeping Beauty, joins Danielle in this insane journey alongside Snow, otherwise known as Snow White. Talia and Snow's story are more intertwined with Danielle's than they are aware, as they battle Stacia and Charlotte, Danielle's wicked step sisters. Oh, and did I mention there's lots of magic and magical powers throughout? Because, no good fantasy lacks that magical element! This book never slows down. It keeps the action and adventure moving constantly and barely gives you any time to breathe. There are so many fantasy creatures, pieces of lore and magical elements in this book that I almost needed an entire list to keep track of it all! I can see fantasy lovers devouring this book up, since it's just so good! Prince Armand is the damsel in distress when the girls have to save him. There's barely any romance, but lots of fantasy and drama throughout. These girls kick butt and do it well! Throw in the comical takes on the fairy tale lore and the totally amusing funny puns and ingenious trickery, and you've got yourself one fun book! I'm really impressed with Jim C. Hines writing and I will one hundred percent need to get the remaining books in this series as soon as possible. The cover is also ridiculously cool. If you're gonna judge a book by it's cover, judge this one. It's incredible to look at! If you like books like the Cinder series but want a little more fun and a lot less romance, this book will be for you. It gave me the vibes Cinder gave me - fun, exciting, fast paced and packed tight with story. This is definitely an adult story, just be aware. There are lots of adult themes and sexual and snide comments throughout. Five out of five stars! I am so glad I got lent this book because WOW-ZA!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (Giraffe Days)

    Since the night she escaped her drudgery to go to the ball where she caught the eye of Prince Armand and danced with him, leaving behind one of her glass slippers which he used to find her, Danielle has known happiness. Her new life as Princess has had its moments, and she keeps trying to befriend the palace servants, but she loves her prince and she's escaped her hellish life as servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. Until, a few short months after the wedding, her stepsister Charlotte turns Since the night she escaped her drudgery to go to the ball where she caught the eye of Prince Armand and danced with him, leaving behind one of her glass slippers which he used to find her, Danielle has known happiness. Her new life as Princess has had its moments, and she keeps trying to befriend the palace servants, but she loves her prince and she's escaped her hellish life as servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. Until, a few short months after the wedding, her stepsister Charlotte turns up, determined to kill her. Not only that, but she seems to have magical help. With the aid of the Queen's maidservant, Talia, who proves that she's not just a pretty face, Charlotte is driven off, but not before baiting Danielle with the knowledge that Armand won't be coming home, ever. Drawn into the Queen's inner circle, Danielle learns a few more interesting things. Like that Talia is better known as Sleeping Beauty and is quite the martial arts and weapons expert. And that the Queen's other protector is none other than Snow White, a talented sorcerer with a penchant for flirting. Together the three women must travel to inhospitable Fairy Town to find and rescue Armand from Danielle's stepsisters. But Fairy Town is a duplicitous place, the kind of place where there's a price to pay for everything and gifts can become curses. I admit it, I am not the right audience for this book. That is to say, I want to read these kinds of stories, but when I do they're just not satisfying enough. It's why I can't get into Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman, and why I have to take even Douglas Adams, whom I love, in small bites. The issue isn't prose or plotting or humour, it's character depth. Funny books tend to be light on their characters. I'm not sure why, they just are. Granted, there was a lot more depth to Danielle, Talia and Snow than I would get from Pratchett, who, if memory serves me well, presented fairly superficial characters who operated on a basis of stereotypes and a comedic quirk here and there. Maybe this is necessary for comedy's sake, and I'm too serious a person. But I don't think so. I need to really know a character in order to sympathise with them. Towards the end, when things really started to go to the shitter for the three would-be rescuers, I did really feel for them. But it took a while. Prose-wise, it's very readable, if a little slow in patches. The humour is mostly in the dialogue and situations, and it has plenty of darkness to help the comedy stand out - but it's not a laugh-out-loud kind of story. At times I had trouble keeping up with the plot connections the characters made, and I didn't always understand their actions. They seemed to operate on greater knowledge than I, as if during an ad break I got up for the loo and missed the first few minutes of the show on returning. The dialogue can be quite clever and surprising, but it was one of those books where the characters - especially Danielle, the main character - didn't ask the obvious question, the one I'm burning to know, and I find that frustrating. You know the one, where you can't help but think "If only they'd asked that question, they wouldn't be having this problem!!" Coming full circle back to characters, I have to say that even though I liked having the the story start off with Charlotte's attempted assassination of Danielle, it does mean that we don't get to see Armand till the very end and so, because we don't get to see Danielle and Armand together, happy and in love, it's hard to really believe it, to really feel it - and a story like this one, where one lover goes into danger to rescue the other, needs that anchor. It adds to the danger element, the level of risk and tension, and enables the reader to feel as driven as the character to rescue the loved one. Yet, beginning with Armand and Danielle, happy together, would be like starting a firecracker night with the Sleeping Lions "game" (you remember, when you were a kid and it was nap time at school so everyone lay down to play Sleeping Lions): you'd be bored before the story had a chance to get going. I guess the only way around it is to add character depth, to make time for Danielle to really show us how and why she loved Armand, a man she barely knew before marrying him. All she does is tell us a few times that she loves him - but if I don't get to see it, I can't really believe it, or invest my energy into her adventure. That was my biggest problem with the story. Aside from that, there's plenty of fun, some clever banter, and the character growth of all three women was subtle and satisfying. I was drawn to the premise, and I like these stories that tackle the "what happened after?" of fairy tales - the happily-ever-after endings never gelled for me, not as a kid and certainly not now (though, I know, they're not really the point of the fairy tales). I'd really like to read the next one, The Mermaid's Madness, which is, as you've guessed from the title, the "true" story of the Little Mermaid. I'm no fan of Disney's versions, so these adult, darker, funny stories are more enjoyable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Artemis

    "Do we look like we need to be rescued?" Exciting, non-stop action and adventure - with three princesses from three different fairy tales. These are not the demure and ineffective females we associate with Disney or even Grimm. These ladies are strong, well-developed, well-rounded and three-dimensional: who need no prince to come and save them. In fact, in this tale, they are the ones who go on a hero's journey to save the prince! For someone who is tired of seeing degrading and unself-aware rubbi "Do we look like we need to be rescued?" Exciting, non-stop action and adventure - with three princesses from three different fairy tales. These are not the demure and ineffective females we associate with Disney or even Grimm. These ladies are strong, well-developed, well-rounded and three-dimensional: who need no prince to come and save them. In fact, in this tale, they are the ones who go on a hero's journey to save the prince! For someone who is tired of seeing degrading and unself-aware rubbish like 'Charlie's Angels' and 'Sex and the City' being labeled as feminist, to see the real deal at last is a joy to say the least. I had my doubts, but I wasn't disappointed. That the two franchises I just mentioned are much more well known and popular in the mainstream media than this book saddens me. 'The Stepsister Scheme' is another modern fairy tale deconstruction novel for me to add to my reading pile. Jim C. Hines clearly knew what we was doing when he wrote this. The creative twists almost make me jealous (oh why didn't I think of this idea first!) There are no real happily ever afters in this story - no story truly ends, and it is not full of pretty rainbows, sparkly castles, ballroom dances, whirlwind romances and babies ever after. Throughout the book, as we come to know the princesses' pasts and why they are not with their "princes" but are instead working for a queen's Secret Service, it becomes clear that what we'd thought from our childhood perceptions of fairy tales will probably be killed. And our innocence will be scarred for life. But in a good way :D It's also gratifying that a male author wrote this. The claims that men can't write women as human beings? That it isn't simple? That women are an alien species who cannot be properly portrayed in fiction because they are such a minority and are strange? Bollocks. Men have written great female characters in the past who are equal to any well-written male character. Books like 'The Stepsister Scheme' give hope to such a claim, especially when popular female authors in recent years are not that well known for their good female characters either - such as in the YA market =sigh=. Anyway: 'The Stepsister Scheme' is more than an action fantasy novel. There is dark magic, hatred and cruelty. But with good messages and subtle social commentary about femininity and equality. We read the whole story from the third-person narrative of Danielle (Cinderella), a flawed but determined heroine who grows stronger throughout her journey to rescue her husband, Prince Armand, from her vengeful stepsisters Charlotte and Stacia. They suddenly have magical abilities, and Danielle will have to use her non-princess "peasant" skills and brains to get one step ahead of her stepsisters. Plus she's pregnant, but that doesn't hinder her or render her useless. She is a warm and likable protagonist to root for. Heck, even forest animals help her out to the death, due to a special gift she has and which is an amusing reference to the 1950 Disney film. Talia (Sleeping Beauty) I think is my favourite character. The exact opposite of how she is always portrayed in her fairy tale, she is an awesome, dark-skinned fighter and possesses what I can only describe as ninja skills - courtesy of the gifts of grace given to her by the fairies at her birth. She is complex and tragic. Harsh and sarcastic. Understandably she hates how fairies work to manipulate humans, and how they "bless" them with skills not acquired naturally. Magical creatures can cause more harm than good. Anyway their "curses" - intentional or otherwise - are always much more interesting to read about (as is the case in 'Ella Enchanted'). Snow White is a diva. A flirt. Beautiful and knows it. A sorceress who uses mirrors to work her magic for good. She is confident and comfortable with her sexuality. She is also very intelligent and loves books, so she has a brain as well as a sexy body (three-dimensional action girl - yes please!) Snow's struggle comes from her own mother wanting to kill her because she's pretty. Yes, mothers play an important part in 'The Stepsister Scheme'; positive and negative. This is unlike so many other fairy tales that won't let a female lead have any female influence or friends in her life; unless it's a wicked stepmother (Danielle's stepmother is dead before the start of the book). So there are three heroines in this book with their own separate personalities and who do not prioritize men first. And they become the best of buddies in the end - non-toxic female friendships all the way! Their "boss" is Queen Beatrice ("Queen Bea"), Danielle's mother-in-law, who sends them on the mission to find her son Armand and stop whatever Danielle's stepsisters are planning. All the while she is burdened with the responsibilities of ruling a kingdom: something Danielle, a royal-by-marriage, will have to do some day alongside Armand. The characters and fairy tale twists I loved. Now for the negatives: I felt that Armand was more of a plot device than a character. We don't see him at the beginning of the story, not even together with Danielle - who doesn't reveal much about him as a person or as a life partner. I'm not saying I want a romance, especially one that takes over the plot and action. But I would have liked to have read more about what Armand was like before he was kidnapped, and Danielle feeling more about her missing husband. I'm not sure if this is meant to show that their relationship was rushed and perhaps shallow, and that Danielle in her adventure comes to realize how much she cares for Armand, since near the end she clearly loves him... The stepsisters and Snow's mother are ridiculously over-the-top evil. For a novel that reconstructs shallow fairy tales, I expected better motivations from the villains, other than "she's prettier than me" and "she doesn't deserve HIM" and "I love HIM". Maybe that is intentional - they are shallow women obsessed with conventional beauty and men and so they are the bad guys. They are horrible, albeit entertaining people, and nothing else. I also didn't like that the deemed "ugly" stepsister has the most terrible things happen to her. Feminine themes of motherhood and marriage, and LGBT, race, rape, jealousy, hatred and love are explored in 'The Stepsister Scheme' - all the while never straying from the adventure that packs a punch and is riveting in its suspense. I'm glad I decided to give it a chance. Sequel here I come! Final Score: 4/5

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kogiopsis

    After reading quite a few of Jim Hines' blog posts and quite enjoying his humor and approach to the world, I figured it was long past time to give his actual books a shot. This seems to be the usual starting point, and after reading it I can see why: it's a fun, light romp of a retelling, nothing too complicated but very enjoyable all in all. The characters don't develop, persay, but the reader's perception and understanding of them does - Hines does a good job of slowly fleshing out their backg After reading quite a few of Jim Hines' blog posts and quite enjoying his humor and approach to the world, I figured it was long past time to give his actual books a shot. This seems to be the usual starting point, and after reading it I can see why: it's a fun, light romp of a retelling, nothing too complicated but very enjoyable all in all. The characters don't develop, persay, but the reader's perception and understanding of them does - Hines does a good job of slowly fleshing out their backgrounds from a conventional understanding of their origin tales to something more complicated (and often delves into the darker versions of said tales in doing so, so be warned). I keep going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, because on the one hand: fun! enjoyable to read! engaging! twists and turns! queer character! but on the other. pregnancy subplot. and look, this is just a me thing, but pregnancy hits me right in the body horror and the anxiety and I just. Even when it's handled well (and it was handled fairly well), it detracts vastly from my enjoyment of a book. So... 3.5 stars, rounded down because that just made me too damn uncomfortable.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This book is thoroughly charming. My socks have been completely charmed off my feet, so it's good that I have blankets and a dog to keep my toes warm. I am so, so glad that I purchased this book. It is clever, has a good plot, has fun use of magic and fighting, and had I not been feeling like death warmed over, may have made me laugh until I cried. As it was, it made me smile really big a couple of times, which is a huge reaction right now. I had this book highly recommended by other folks who lik This book is thoroughly charming. My socks have been completely charmed off my feet, so it's good that I have blankets and a dog to keep my toes warm. I am so, so glad that I purchased this book. It is clever, has a good plot, has fun use of magic and fighting, and had I not been feeling like death warmed over, may have made me laugh until I cried. As it was, it made me smile really big a couple of times, which is a huge reaction right now. I had this book highly recommended by other folks who like it when fantasy tropes get turned on their head. The princesses are smart, resourceful, and have no problems kicking ass. The prince gets rescued. Evil is squashed. Fairies are annoying. This is a wonderful, charming book. I will be reading it for a second time soon and am looking forward to getting to experience it all over again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Krissy

    For some reason I just couldn't really get into it even though it was a good story. I think I just wasn't in the mood to read this type of book. I just picked a bad time to read it I guess. For some reason I just couldn't really get into it even though it was a good story. I think I just wasn't in the mood to read this type of book. I just picked a bad time to read it I guess.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines is a fresh spin on what happens after the happily ever after of various Grimm fairy tales. In a fantasy world where Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are real princesses but the stories are mostly rumors, Cinderella (whose real name is Danielle) has only been married to her prince a short while when he suddenly disappears. Add to that her stepsister trying to assassinate her and the weird servant girl who saved her, and Danielle is just having a bad The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines is a fresh spin on what happens after the happily ever after of various Grimm fairy tales. In a fantasy world where Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are real princesses but the stories are mostly rumors, Cinderella (whose real name is Danielle) has only been married to her prince a short while when he suddenly disappears. Add to that her stepsister trying to assassinate her and the weird servant girl who saved her, and Danielle is just having a bad day. Fortunately, the expert mirror sorceress Snow White (call her Snow) and the expert assassin Sleeping Beauty (call her Talia on pain of pain) make up the queen’s Secret Service and are ready to help Danielle track down her kidnapped prince and show her stepsisters who they should really be afraid of. I can’t believe that I haven’t read any Jim C. Hines until my friend handed me his Princess series! Now before you get all, “another fairy tale retelling, ugh,” let me reassure you that The Stepsister Scheme is based on the Grimm fairy tales, not any of the recent fluffed up stories. Danielle’s stepsisters have crippled feet from their mother trying to cut them to fit into the glass slipper. Danielle’s stepmother died from wounds suffered from the doves at Danielle’s wedding attacking her. No Disney stories here. The whole story follows this same feel of fairy tales with a real bite, making it perfect for mature young adults or adults to enjoy this retelling. Goodreads | Amazon Title: The Stepsister Scheme Author: Jim C. Hines Pages: 344 Genre-ish: Grimm fairy tales retold Rating: ★★★★★- Kick butt! Setting: The Stepsister Scheme takes place after the various Grimm princess fairy tales take place. Cinderella has already met and married her prince, Sleeping Beauty has already woken up and escaped from her “prince” and Snow White has fought and killed her mother. The world is split into the humans’ area and the fairies’, however, due to an ancient battle. In the fairy queen and kingdom (The queen would not be happy if it was called a kingdom….) everything from pegasi to goblins to duck-billed girls can be found, and in the human kingdoms sorcery and martial arts are perfected by the various peoples. Premise: Danielle is quite happy with her new life and her new love, but when the prince disappears and her stepsister comes to assassinate her, it becomes clear that things are not going to be as nice as she thought. Fortunately, Queen Beatrice (Bea for short) has her own Secret Service made up of a mirror magic sorceress called Snow (White) and a martial arts expert who doesn’t have to sleep anymore after sleeping for a century. Don’t call her Sleeping Beauty though, no matter what stories you’ve heard; she doesn’t much like that name…. Strengths: The problem with most fairy tale retellings is that they are based off the fluffy stories and lack much tension. No such problem with The Stepsister Scheme! Since these are based on the Grimm tales there is no doubt that bad things can and will happen to the characters. The trolls really will try to eat you, the random magical creatures are very much not trustworthy and there is a definite possibility of icky or scary things happening, which all add to the compelling nature of the plot. I really liked the princesses’ personalities. They had a wide range from the flirty Snow to the serious and emotionally scarred Talia and Danielle was obviously from forced servitude recently from various stray thoughts. These are women that I would love to meet, decent role models, but with their own flaws and secret pains, very well-rounded over all. Snow’s mirror magic is awesome. She has to have a mirror of some kind (and therefore wears some around her neck) and she is so creative with her magic! Similarly, Talia has some awesome weapons beyond the typical fantasy weapons. Finally, Danielle can communicate with small animals as she could in the fairy tale, and this comes in surprising use. At one point Danielle is talking with Talia about her fairy gifts, and since one of the gifts was perfect beauty, Danielle gets confused. Talia is not as beautiful as Snow in Danielle’s opinion, though she obviously doesn’t want to say that. Talia saves her by explaining that in her kingdom, she is the epitome of beauty, but there is a different standard of beauty where Danielle is from, and in Talia’s kingdom Snow would be considered grossly pale with strangely pointy features. Different standards of beauty is a freaking awesome lesson to work in, thank you Jim C. Hines! Weaknesses: Seeing as the Prince is kidnapped and under various spells for pretty much all of the book, there is basically no romance element at all. This was fine with me, but I know many of you really like your romance, so just to warn you. Talia had some pretty heavy stuff happen to her in the past (her prince didn’t exactly stop at the kiss) which pushes this novel more to the mature level since you probably don’t want to have that talk with a younger reader yet. Talia and Snow could have been a bit better developed, since it seems like they both are mostly just their one descriptor: serious and flirty, respectively. The last third of The Stepsister Scheme has a little bit of a strange time structure since there is a break of at least several days in the middle of the important epic-ness. This through me a little bit, but it works pretty well in the end. Summary: The Stepsister Scheme is a freaking awesome start to the Princess series by Jim C. Hines and any (fairly mature) reader who likes kick butt female characters and fantasy settings. Hines writes wonderful characters and the world is fresh and interesting. I’m really looking forward to finding time to read the rest of the books and hopefully explore more parts of the world and maybe more of the fairy tales! Seriously, just go find a copy of The Stepsister scheme, I can’t think of anything more to say, haha.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nan

    (I don't know if anyone would consider this a spoilery review, so please be warned . . .) Danielle is the princess formerly known as Cinderwench. Predictibly, she's having a hard time settling into her new role in life, despite the fact that she genuinely loves her husband. She has a hard time establishing a relationship with her servants, as she finds it difficult to tell them what to do and to allow them to do their own work. She doesn't enjoy learning the protocol she needs to know. However, a (I don't know if anyone would consider this a spoilery review, so please be warned . . .) Danielle is the princess formerly known as Cinderwench. Predictibly, she's having a hard time settling into her new role in life, despite the fact that she genuinely loves her husband. She has a hard time establishing a relationship with her servants, as she finds it difficult to tell them what to do and to allow them to do their own work. She doesn't enjoy learning the protocol she needs to know. However, all that changes when her stepsister, Charlotte, reappears in her life. One assassination attempt later, Danielle finds that she must become assertive if she is to live--and if she is rescue her husband, currently at the mercy of her stepsisters. She has the help of Snow, a witch with mirror magic, and the mysterious Talia, known popularly as Sleeping Beauty. The Stepsister Scheme is an engaging read, and I've been looking forward to reading it ever since talking to the author, Jim C. Hines, at a conference in Minnesota in 2006. I used to study fairy tales as an academic area of pursuit, and I can say that Hines has clearly done his research. He knows the older, darker, alternate versions of these tales quite well. However, he doesn't bludgeoun (sp?) his readers with that knowledge. Instead, it unspools slowly as their history becomes relevant to the plot. Shrek 3 used many of these same princesses to tell a far different story. In that movie, their passive traits (ex: Sleeping Beauty's ability to fall asleep at will and trip soldiers with her body) are used to save the day. Here, Hines tells the story of women that refuse to be passive and reshape their various curses into strengths. I liked this book, and I look forward to the sequel, The Mermaid's Madness, promised in October 2009. The cover copy made this book sound like it was going to be much funnier than it was, but once I adapted to Hines' humor, that wasn't an issue for me any longer. The next novel has the potential to be stronger (and maybe funnier?) now that these characters have been established in their roles.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    This is a fun book. A quick read filled with action, magic and humor. The story starts with Cinderella, 'real' name Danielle de Glas, mere months after the classic fairy tale ends, at a time she should be busy living happily ever after. Instead Danielle's husband, Prince Armand, gets kidnapped by her stepsisters. Aided by Talia (also known as Sleeping Beauty), whose fairy blessings grant her some mean fighting skills and Snow (White of course), a sorceress using mirror magic, Danielle sets out to This is a fun book. A quick read filled with action, magic and humor. The story starts with Cinderella, 'real' name Danielle de Glas, mere months after the classic fairy tale ends, at a time she should be busy living happily ever after. Instead Danielle's husband, Prince Armand, gets kidnapped by her stepsisters. Aided by Talia (also known as Sleeping Beauty), whose fairy blessings grant her some mean fighting skills and Snow (White of course), a sorceress using mirror magic, Danielle sets out to rescue her prince. A nice turnaround on the classic 'dashing prince rescues damsel in distress' scenario. The characters, both our three princeses and the villains, are well written, fully realized personalities. At first glance the three heroines all fullfil classic stereotypes (Danielle is the naïve, innocent girl, Snow the flirty, loose girl and Talia the tough, surly girl), but there is a lot more dept behind all of them than that. The princesses' backgrounds are all based on their respective fairy tales, but rather than the prettied up Disney versions, the author based his characters on much darker, older versions of the stories. Especially Talia's past, which has left its marks on her personality, is quite gruesome to learn about. There is plenty of action and violence, though to gore and blood is kept to a tasteful level. Although there's nothing graphic, there are some refences to sex, mostly in the form of flirty innuendo and cheerful banter. Despite the dark source material and nature of events occuring in the story, The Stepsister Scheme is overal light and humerous in tone and it is clear that its main purpose is to entertain the reader. Which it does really well. I look forward to reading more books in this series.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Silent_count

    This book made me think a lot about girls going through puberty. It's an age when they're starting to find their way in our, grown-up world but are themselves still touched by the glimmering magic of childhood. This is a book for all of those girls... and maybe their parents too. It's for girls who are taught that girls are weak, and who need role-models better than the Paris Hiltons and Bella Swans of our world. It's for girls who are old enough to see through the "childish" fairy tales but have This book made me think a lot about girls going through puberty. It's an age when they're starting to find their way in our, grown-up world but are themselves still touched by the glimmering magic of childhood. This is a book for all of those girls... and maybe their parents too. It's for girls who are taught that girls are weak, and who need role-models better than the Paris Hiltons and Bella Swans of our world. It's for girls who are old enough to see through the "childish" fairy tales but haven't yet realised quite how important our imaginations are. And it's for girls who love to read... and, as every smart boy knows, they're the best kind. This is a well crafted story. It's simple and linear but with more than enough creativity to be engaging. The only complaints I can level against it are that it uses a constricted vocabulary, which I can understand as I'd imagine the target audience are early teens. A little more problematic is the heroine who, for much of the story, seems to have little personality and is merely a puppet, buffeted to and fro by the people and events around her. Perhaps this is intentionally done so the reader can inhabit her shoes, or to show her finding her feet as the story progresses, but I found it off-putting that the secondary characters were more vibrant and interesting than the heroine. I didn't greatly enjoy this book because it's too simplistic compared to my usual fare. However, I will be gifting a few copies to the young ladies in my life because it is a well told story and I hope they come away confident in the knowledge that being a lady isn't the same thing as being weak and helpless. Sometimes Cinderella needs to go out and rescue Prince Charming.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dani 🌙

    This book was a great mix of dark and light and highly entertaining to read. The various characters were hilarious and I liked their connections with each other. Strong Points: -I loved the dark and light moments in the book. Some parts were unexpectedly gruesome, and others lighthearted and fun. This mix made it highly entertaining. -I also really liked the way the plot went at the end -Loved the concept of the princess saving her prince. -The characters were awesome, but see weak points for a lit This book was a great mix of dark and light and highly entertaining to read. The various characters were hilarious and I liked their connections with each other. Strong Points: -I loved the dark and light moments in the book. Some parts were unexpectedly gruesome, and others lighthearted and fun. This mix made it highly entertaining. -I also really liked the way the plot went at the end -Loved the concept of the princess saving her prince. -The characters were awesome, but see weak points for a little note. Snow was my favourite, being a kick-butt warrior and mirror magic artist, but also being really funny and I loved her remarks and interactions with Talia. She had very good retorts. -Talia's backstory was amazing. It was horribly gruesome. Imagine waking up to THAT? (view spoiler)[ When her evil prince's "true love" kiss didn't work, they tried something else and she woke up to childbirth. (hide spoiler)] Anyway, it was awesome the dark twist on it. -Overall, the plot was really cool, with some unexpected twists though sometimes a little too drawn out. Weak Points (what I didn't like): -The chapters were very looooooonnnnnnngggggggggggg. This actually takes away from the reading experience for me because I am discouraged to read it when I only have time for a short chapter. -Sometimes I was a little bored, mostly because I felt the chapter was too long and just wanted to get to a break already. -Though I loved the idea of the characters, I found sometimes they were superficial. I would've liked to see more from them sometimes. I want more backstory on Snow and Danielle! As a side note, the book was more mature than I expected, not that took away or anything. Just a comment. 3.5/5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    Cinderella - aka Danielle - thought she found her happily-ever-after. She married her prince, toured the kingdom, and has discovered she has the funny knack to talk to animals. But when one of her stepsisters breaks into the castle and tries to assassinate her with some peculiarly powerful witchcraft, it's obvious that something is very wrong. As her stepsister escapes, she announces that they have the Prince - Armand - in their possession. Fortunately for Danielle, a woman by the name of Talia Cinderella - aka Danielle - thought she found her happily-ever-after. She married her prince, toured the kingdom, and has discovered she has the funny knack to talk to animals. But when one of her stepsisters breaks into the castle and tries to assassinate her with some peculiarly powerful witchcraft, it's obvious that something is very wrong. As her stepsister escapes, she announces that they have the Prince - Armand - in their possession. Fortunately for Danielle, a woman by the name of Talia comes to her rescue. Talia was Sleeping Beauty, and her fairy-endowed gifts make her a martial arts master. It turns out Snow White lives in the castle, too, and has mastered healing and mirror magic. Together they set off for Fairy Town to rescue the Prince.[return][return]This book was a fun frolic through various fairy tales. It's not a light and fluffy book, though; in that sense, it really draws deeply on the old, original tales much more so than the Disney versions. The three female leads are all quite distinct and likable. I'll definitely seek out the next two books in the series as they are released - I especially want to find out more about Little Red Riding Hood being the most feared assassin in the land.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kati

    Not as light-hearted as Hines' "Goblin" series. Actually, it's a really odd mix. On the one hand, there's banter and humor, on the other hand, there's rape and murder there too. And the end-result is... well, odd. The princesses are likable, that's true. But I have to admit that by the end of the book I was starting to get really bored/annoyed with them. I can't really put my finger on what bothered me so much. Maybe it was their inability to cooperate? Or better said, the author's inability to Not as light-hearted as Hines' "Goblin" series. Actually, it's a really odd mix. On the one hand, there's banter and humor, on the other hand, there's rape and murder there too. And the end-result is... well, odd. The princesses are likable, that's true. But I have to admit that by the end of the book I was starting to get really bored/annoyed with them. I can't really put my finger on what bothered me so much. Maybe it was their inability to cooperate? Or better said, the author's inability to make them, all three of them, fight at the same time? Usually, one of them fought while the other two gaped instead of covering each other's back? Several times I found myself on the verge of yelling, "SMACK HIM/HER!" Yes, I had to put the book down a few times to stifle my aggravation. Also, can you imagine a heavily pregnant woman climbing over a railing and jumping down from the height of the second floor? No, I didn't think so. To sum it up: average and rather forgettable.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kayt O'Bibliophile

    Fairy tales would have you believe that happily ever after is the ending to any story. Fairy tales lie. When Danielle's (a.k.a. Cinderella) husband is kidnapped, she enlists the aid of Talia (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow (White), whose stories are much darker than tales would have you believe. As someone who loves retold fairy tales, this was a great story. It doesn't just retell them--the tales themselves are backstory, and we learn the truth as the story goes on--but it takes fairy tale elements and Fairy tales would have you believe that happily ever after is the ending to any story. Fairy tales lie. When Danielle's (a.k.a. Cinderella) husband is kidnapped, she enlists the aid of Talia (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow (White), whose stories are much darker than tales would have you believe. As someone who loves retold fairy tales, this was a great story. It doesn't just retell them--the tales themselves are backstory, and we learn the truth as the story goes on--but it takes fairy tale elements and magic and weaves them into a really good kick-butt adventure. Sometimes I felt as though author Hines was being a bit too crude, unnecessarily, but overall it's a fairly dark, very humorous, very good adventure.

  26. 5 out of 5

    julia

    A friend recommended this to me, knowing my penchant for Disney Princesses. These gals ain't anything like the Disney princesses, more like the fairy tales I read growing up. HOwever, I didn't really care for the girls. Talia/Sleeping Beauty is kind of a mean person with a major chip on her shoulder from all that time spent sleeping. Snow White is more like a teenage boy's fantasy than a real person, and Cinderella/Danielle really wasn't that enchanting. I won't be reading any more of the series A friend recommended this to me, knowing my penchant for Disney Princesses. These gals ain't anything like the Disney princesses, more like the fairy tales I read growing up. HOwever, I didn't really care for the girls. Talia/Sleeping Beauty is kind of a mean person with a major chip on her shoulder from all that time spent sleeping. Snow White is more like a teenage boy's fantasy than a real person, and Cinderella/Danielle really wasn't that enchanting. I won't be reading any more of the series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Unwisely

    This started out slightly obnoxious, but I figured maybe it was just a rough start. Lots of books get better as they go on. Except before I got 100 pages in, it tripped my Most Hated Trope (see here, and I just couldn't finish. (Yes, yes, you go ahead and read about that stuff, I will not.) I made it past that in the Mercy Thompson because I actually cared about the character - it took several books to get to that point. This didn't make it. I can't recommend it. This started out slightly obnoxious, but I figured maybe it was just a rough start. Lots of books get better as they go on. Except before I got 100 pages in, it tripped my Most Hated Trope (see here, and I just couldn't finish. (Yes, yes, you go ahead and read about that stuff, I will not.) I made it past that in the Mercy Thompson because I actually cared about the character - it took several books to get to that point. This didn't make it. I can't recommend it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elwen

    Somehow I thought this is a funny retelling with our well-known fairy tale characters, but it is by no means! Even if there are some scenes to giggle, it is more an action packed twist on their happily ever after. Snow white, Cinderella and Sleeping beauty are based on the original (bloody) Grimm fairy tales but differs in some interesting ways. The story itself lacks a bit sometimes, but the magic system and the thrilling finale balance this out very well. It is #1 of a series, but can be read Somehow I thought this is a funny retelling with our well-known fairy tale characters, but it is by no means! Even if there are some scenes to giggle, it is more an action packed twist on their happily ever after. Snow white, Cinderella and Sleeping beauty are based on the original (bloody) Grimm fairy tales but differs in some interesting ways. The story itself lacks a bit sometimes, but the magic system and the thrilling finale balance this out very well. It is #1 of a series, but can be read as stand-alone. I'll try the next one anyway.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Burgess

    Hmmmm I tried. I really did. It's not a bad book, but I just couldn't get into it. It was a great premise, but it didn't go the way I thought it was going to. Maybe it seemed a little too contrived? A little too contemporary? I think I was expecting something a little bit MORE out there... somewhere... over a rainbow or rabbit-hole or magic faraway tree. Or something. Just couldn't do it... Hmmmm I tried. I really did. It's not a bad book, but I just couldn't get into it. It was a great premise, but it didn't go the way I thought it was going to. Maybe it seemed a little too contrived? A little too contemporary? I think I was expecting something a little bit MORE out there... somewhere... over a rainbow or rabbit-hole or magic faraway tree. Or something. Just couldn't do it...

  30. 5 out of 5

    This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For

    I thought the concept was pretty good and really wanted to like this book, but just never felt like I got into it. The plot was rather simplistic, the characters a little too flat (although with potential), and the humor not humorous enough. It starts off doing a good job playing off of the "story that you've heard is not the real story" angle of the fairy tales, but in the long run just falls back onto common tropes. I thought the concept was pretty good and really wanted to like this book, but just never felt like I got into it. The plot was rather simplistic, the characters a little too flat (although with potential), and the humor not humorous enough. It starts off doing a good job playing off of the "story that you've heard is not the real story" angle of the fairy tales, but in the long run just falls back onto common tropes.

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