Where Cinderella’s story ends, we continue with Isabelle, the “ugly stepsister.” The concept of taking on the role of one of the “bad guys” really appealed to me, and this book certainly didn’t disappoint me. Read on!

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Captivating world

Donelly knows how to create a very clear picture of the world and the (colorful) characters that live in it. It’s like I’ve walked through their village before. I can almost smell the scents, so lifelike. And the elf queen? Wow, what an appearance (in my head). Very original and certainly not “the fairy godmother” that is so familiar to us haha.

Loving a hateable character

So we follow the story of Isabelle. It’s no secret what she and her sister did; everyone in the village talks about it and despises all three of them. I probably would too, but as a reader you will soon learn more about Isabelle, how she used to be friends with Ella, how the world looks at the appearance of girls and the hard upbringing of her mother. I couldn’t believe it myself, but I really felt a lot of pity for Isabelle – who of course is far from perfect, but turns out to be a really strong lady – and I really started to love her!

Build-up tension

I am not a patient reader by nature, and I cannot say that there were many thrilling action scenes in the book (except for the end), but still every scene, every chapter has managed to fascinate me again. And in a calm (but not too calm) way, the story creeps to a beautiful and exciting climax. It is a book that I definitely want to reread in the future, and a must have for anyone who likes a (dark) fairytale.

Title: Stepsister
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Published: May 2019
Pages: 352
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Rating: 5/5