The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines revisits the classic fairy tales Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as the first installment of the Princess series. In Hines' fantasy, these "happily ever after" fairy tales come to us with a twist. Cinderella's (known to her stepsisters as Cinderwench) real name is Danielle Whiteshore, Sleeping Beauty is actually a martial arts master who goes by Talia and hates fairies despite their blessings, and Snow is a sorceress who changed her name to hide her royal roots. After Danielle's stepsister attempts to take her life and her husband, Prince Armand, is kidnapped, these three princesses head out to Fairyland on a mission to find the evil stepsisters and rescue the prince. On the way, the princesses are forced to revisit their pasts, outthink riddles, conquer magical beings, and, most importantly, trust each other.
This princess trio is certainly one to admire, full of courage, wit, beauty, and fun. As a great lover of fairy tales, I enjoyed how Hines combined the traditional fairy tales with the Disney ones in his own retelling, empowering the female characters as they went to rescue the prince. These strong heroines were well-developed and relatable, and their unique abilities and personalities balanced each other well. The Stepsister Scheme is full of action, moving the plot along while helping to attract a male audience in addition to the obvious female one. After being introduced to Danielle, Talia, and Snow in The Stepsister Scheme, I can't wait until The Mermaid's Madness is released to see how Hines merges these tough princesses into the tale of The Little Mermaid.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Farmington, CT USA