A Book Review of “Stepsister”

Looking for a good fantasy retelling? Look no further than this book review for an honest opinion. Image courtesy of goodreads.com.


Looking for a good fantasy retelling? Look no further than this book review for an honest opinion. Image courtesy of goodreads.com.

Safia Khan

”Sometimes it’s easier to say that you hate something rather than admit how badly you want it.”

With book review websites and authors raving about Stepsister, I was a little apprehensive to pick it up. My initial thoughts before reading this book were to not get my hopes up and to expect just another retelling. The thing is, this book ISN’T “just another retelling.” It’s SO much more, and I AM IN LOVE. I couldn’t put this book down. The amazing characters, storytelling, and inner fight in this book was absolutely captivating.

Stepsister stays true to the original Grimm Brothers story. Isabelle is one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters and she cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoes. When Isabelle’s lie is discovered, she’s turned away and shamed, becoming an outcast. In order to survive in a society that doesn’t appreciate women, she’s had to cut away at integral pieces of herself that make her, such as her dreams and wishes. Isabelle has become mean, jealous, and hollow. Until she gets a chance to change her path and alter her destiny. 

The plot of this book was fast paced and really interesting. An integral theme is how concepts like chance and fate have a role in Isabelle’s life. Chance and fate were personified as people, which was so interesting! Stepsister reminded me of a book called, The Game of Love and Death due to how concepts such as chance, fate, love, and death were personified as people and played a role in the main characters’ lives.

The characters were easy to love and relate to. Isabelle is a dynamic character and she greatly changed throughout the book. Tavi, Isabelle’s sister, is the typical snarky sister that you can’t help but love. Her wit and comebacks were scathing and I love how her personality was also shown throughout the story. Both Tavi and Isabelle are so passionate and fiery, it was upsetting to see in the book how both society and their mother were discouraging towards them. I’ve found that all of the characters in this story are very flawed, but that’s what makes them so lovable – their mistakes. 

This is such a unique retelling. With the story of Cinderella, everyone focuses on pretty, poor Cinderella and how awful her stepsisters are. No one gives much thought as to why Cinderella’s stepsisters may be acting the way they do, other than them wanting to marry the prince. What kept this from being a perfect book for me, are some unanswered questions about the story.

Stepsister is an inspiring read and the topics the author explores within this book are deeply resonating. The characters are so clever and loveable, and if you enjoy reading fantasy, I definitely recommend picking up this book.