June 12th, 2010


#54 The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

At the end of every fairy tale, everyone lives happily ever after. The princess marries the prince. The force of evil is defeated. In the world of The Stepsister Scheme, things aren't quite that simple. Danielle, also known as Cinderella, thinks she has achieved her happily ever after upon marring Prince Armand. That is until she learns that her new husband has been kidnapped by her two stepsisters, who blame Danielle for the death of their mother. With the help of Talia (who is really Sleeping Beauty), and Snow (who is of course, Snow White) Danielle must embark on a dangerous journey through fairyland to rescue the prince who once rescued her.

I've been curious about reading Jim Hines for a while. What finally motivated me to pick up The Stepsister Scheme was actually reading his insightful blog here on livejournal. Here, I thought, is someone who really gets the fantasy genre, and I feel as if it really shows in The Stepsister Scheme. The Stepsister Scheme is a perfect book for everyone that grew up watching Disney princess movies, but now crave a story with a little more complexity. The novel is not afraid of the darker parts of fairy tales (for example, in the original Cinderella, the stepmother's eyes are pecked out by birds once Cinderella marries the prince. This often forgotten element appears in this novel), and to put it's heroines into some real peril. At the same time, it's not exactly a dark book. The Stepsister Scheme is a fun adventure story filled with strong heroines, sword fights, magic, and humor. Basically, it's what I typically look for when trying to find a fun fantasy book. The novel is light on the romance, and instead chooses to spend it's time developing strong friendships between the three leads. Everyone will probably come out of the book with a favorite princess, whether it be the kind and clever Danielle, the tough fighter Talia, or the saucy sorceress Snow. My favorite of the three would have to be Snow. I loved her flirtatious attitude as well as her impressive determination. I also have a soft spot for magic casters.

Ignore the childish cover art, The Stepsister Scheme is a downright fun book filled with memorable moments (my personal favorite would be when the three princesses ask for a guide in fairy town. Very funny!). I kind of wish that we had gotten to learn more about the interesting world it takes place in, but I suspected that that would have distracted from the fast paced storyline. Fortunately for me, book two The Mermaid's Madness, has already been published, and the third book Red Hood's Revenge, will be coming out soon. I will be sure to pick them up once I have the chance.

Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 344 pages
Source: paperbackswap
Challenge: This book is not part of any challenges
Similar Books: Doppelganger by Marie Brennan (my review), The Truth Series (which Begins with First Truth) and the Princess Books (which begins with The Decoy Princess) by Dawn Cook, The Dead River Trilogy (Which begins with Freedom's Gate) by Naomi Kritzer
Other books I've read by this author: This is my first

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han shot first

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

Arha is the reincarnated Priestess of The Tombs, delivered into the world by the power of the Nameless Ones and brought to the Kargish island deserts in Atuan to preside over her underground domain. She is watched over by others: eunuchs and other Priestesses more knowledgeable in the dark powers of The Nameless Ones than she. Arha, whose name means “the eaten one,” spends her time dancing before the moon, thinking of punishments for the Godking’s sacrificial prisoners, and paying obeisance before the Empty Throne.

She does not remember who she used to be or more than fragmented whispers of memories from a time when she was very little and lived a very different life with a mother, a father, and many brothers and sisters. She does not even remember her true name until a strange man enters the Undertomb, a place absolutely forbidden for men to enter. Arha is curious about him and the weird little light on his staff, the sorcery often scoffed and spoken ill of by the other women. She watches him in fascination, trapped as he is, until she discovers what he’s really after. He is there to steal the greatest treasure of Atuan, the thing which must never be taken from the tombs, let alone out into the world, but he is determined and cannot do it alone.

( Read the rest of the review? )

This book is part of a reading challenge I'm hosting at my book review blog (Jawas Read, Too!). If you're interested, the information is here. :)