A badass retelling of Cinderella, from the stepsister’s perspective. Redemptive and engaging.


  • Enjoy fantasy
  • Love retellings
  • Love fairy tales

TitleStepsister Author: Jennifer Donnelly | Rating: 4.5/5

I want more. And so I ordered another one of Donnelly’s fairy tale retellings, Poisoned.

But, Stepsister was everything I was looking for in this story, and more. I do wish there was more historical context and depth in that regard, but the writing and plot alone were more than enough.

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.

What I loved the most was it was the Cinderella tale told not from ‘Ella’s perspective, but from her stepsisters’ perspectives. And it opened my eyes to the original Cinderella tale. Though, yes, the stepsisters were mean to Cinderella in the original story, their main flaw was really that they were ugly. And so here in Stepsister, the stepsisters are indeed as ugly as they are beautiful. They are raw and powerful in their own way, and that brings out a beauty that is not readily apparent. But there is beauty nonetheless. And there is redemption in their tale.

Stepsister is the story you want empowered girls to read, because the sisters not only rise up from being “ugly,” but they follow their true dreams in life: one to lead and make a difference in the world, the other to be a scholar and spend her life learning. Cinderella, sad to say, “only” becomes a princess. So this is the princess tale turned upside down and given a shake, which they all sorely need in today’s society.

A tale to be told and read, Stepsister is the perfect read for anyone looking for feminist retellings of fairy tales.

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