Stepsister Scheme Review

Amber Stults

The latest fantasy series from Jim C. Hines features three princesses – Danielle (de Glas) Whiteshore, Ermillina Curtana and Talia Malak-el-Dashat.  The stories that circulate around Lorindar about Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are based on fact but the true tales do not have happily ever after endings.

This first book in the Princess Novels takes place several months after Danielle’s wedding to Prince Armand of Lorindar.  If one overlooks the pigeon attack against Danielle’s stepmother and stepsisters, the wedding was perfect.  The book reveals the stepsisters’ plan for revenge and sets up future adventures for the princesses.  The Little Mermaid and Little Red Riding Hood will appear in the next two novels.  For now, the princesses must travel to Fairytown to rescue Prince Armand and defeat the stepsisters, Charlotte and Stacia.

Each princess has traits that complement the trio.  Danielle believes the good in others will prevail, has unparalleled tenaciousness and can converse with animals.  Snow is flirtatious, a healer and a powerful mirror sorceress.  Talia is slow to trust but has unshakable loyalty and is a martial arts expert.  All three are quick witted, strong willed and analytical thinkers.  It’s no surprise a tagline for the series is “Do we look like we need to be rescued?”

An exhilarating read, Hines combines a detailed plotline with fully developed characters.  Upon rereading the first few chapters, I found cleverly hidden clues to explain how Stacia and Charlotte can suddenly wield magic.  The action takes place at breakneck speed and I found myself rereading some passages to fully appreciate the artistry behind the chosen words.

Hines includes humor and political intrigue with the action.  For instance, Lorindar’s Queen Beatrice and King Theodore have spies who work separately from each other.  Queen Bea, as the princesses call her, has saved the life of King Theodore many times and not always with his knowledge.  The politics between Lorindar and Fairytown can be problematic and provides another obstacle for the princesses to navigate in their search for Prince Armand.

The content of The Stepsister Scheme has a dark tone at times so don’t pick up this book expecting to read the adventures of Disney Princesses to younger children.  Though the messages of empowerment and female camaraderie are important it’s probably best to read this one for yourself before deciding whether or not your children should read it.  For now, I’m counting down the months until The Mermaid’s Madness is released.

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Unless otherwise stated all books reviewed here were received free of charge from their author or publisher. This, of course, does not affect the content of our reviews.