October 3, 2011

The Stepsister Scheme - Jim Hines

Yes, I know that this book isn't usually my cup of tea. But I am now visiting a friend who was my supplier of pulp fiction (not the movie sort) through university, and her husband loaned me this book (which I finished in about 24 hours). This said friend's husband is friends with the author, and told me that the author wrote this book so that his daughter (then 8, now 12) would have a princess option other than the saccharine Disney variety.

Imagine, if you will, what happened after Cinderella's Happily Ever After. Imagine that her stepsisters have turned to magic and become witches, kidnapped Cinderella's prince, and are holding him hostage in the land of the fairies. And imagine that Cinderella's mother-in-law (the queen) has a personal body guard consisting of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. And now imagine that Sleeping Beauty, contrary to the popular tale, was actually raped by the prince sent to wake her up and was awakened by the pains of childbirth; and that Snow White was poisoned by her mother who was jealous of her magical abilities and then watched her lover choose to be murdered by the queen rather than to kill Snow White (the 7 dwarves are, in fact, the 7 Anthropomorphic Incarnations of Elemental Magic - Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Light, Darkness, and Magic).

You would end up with three supremely pissed off princesses. And the story goes on from there.

I don't read enough fantasy in order to be able to judge this one, but it was certainly an enjoyable romp as far as such stories go. And yes, it offers a radially different re-telling of the stories from the Disney versions, featuring strong female leads. I just don't know that I would want my daughter to be reading it at the age of 8, or even 12. There is a lot of violence, and a number of references to sex. It doesn't seem quite geared to the pre-YA crowd... But it was a pleasant way to pass an autumn day; though I suspect that I won't be looking up the other books in the series. Like I said, not quite my cup of tea.

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