Book Review -- The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
Cheryl McCreary spends her days teaching the world about biology and the body. She has been involved in fanfiction and fandom for almost ten years. She's always been a geek, liking science, science fiction, reading, and more recently horror and dark fantasy. For the past few years she's taken a hiatus from fanfiction to write original fiction. Her short stories have been published in the speculative fiction markets Ruins Extraterrestrial anthology, Space Westerns, and AlienSkin, among others.View all articles by Cheryl McCreary
The author, Jim C. Hines, is more likely known for his Goblin Quest trilogy: fantasy humor about the little guys in a big, scary world. The Stepsister Scheme is the first book in his second series that deals with the retelling of fairy tale stories and princesses. This book felt a little more grown up than the Goblin Quest books, but Jim C. Hines brings the same humor, great creation of characters and world, and a fresh easy to read writing style to The Stepsister Scheme.
The story begins with a missing Prince Charming. He, of course, got himself drunk in Fairy Town and captured by Cinderella's evil stepsisters. Thus, his new wife Danielle (Cinderella), with the help of Snow (Snow White), and Talia (Sleeping Beauty) set off to Fairy Town to find and rescue him. Not one of them thinks it wrong for a woman to go saving a man, nor will they let anyone tell them so.
Jim C. Hines does a lovely job of creating strong, dependent and realistic female heroes. Let it not be said that such is impossible. This is certainly an action book, but with a strong feminist streak. Talia is a gifted warrior with a multi-layered personality and a good deal of pain and wrongs against her to fight through. Snow is the mage and flirting beauty of the three. She must fight through her fears of where she came from and what she could become to help save the day. Danielle, newly married, and as she discovers newly pregnant, insists on traveling with the others to save her Prince Charming. As the main heroine in this book Danielle finds the needed strength, and a little magic, to meet any peril that threatens her.
While this is a fantasy world in a sword and sorcery style, the three princess's stories are told with a realist bent. The myths of their fairy tales are mostly that, myths. The retelling of each princess's story uses the traditional fairy tale elements the reader will recognize, but makes the reality something more modern and believable. What results are true stories of real women, and I think it was my favorite part of this book.
The second book of the series, The Mermaid's Madness, is due out in October of this year. A preview is up on the author's website. In all, there are currently planned to be five books in The Stepsister Scheme series.