Title: The Ugly Stepsister
Author: Aya Ling
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5/5 stars)
Pages/Genre: 452 / YA Fairytale Retelling
The Ugly Stepsister will be available for purchase on June 12th! Pre-order your copy NOW! You won’t regret it!
*Persuade the prince to give the ball
*Learn how to act like a noble lady
*Find fairy godmother
*Prevent other stepsister from sinking her claws into Prince Charming
*Find out why Cinderella has a mother and two brothers in the poorhouse
When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?
My Review: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
One Line: This book is absolutely phenomenal.
I almost gave up on it, though. The beginning was very rocky as the author struggle to establish the world. If it wasn’t for my love of all things Cinderella, I might have given up on this book. But I’m so glad I didn’t! By the end of the third chapter, I was hooked, and couldn’t put it down! There was the occasional instances throughout the book that flashed back to the ameteur writing of the first two chapters – things like Kat yelling “Noooooo!” in her head when something went wrong. Luckily, those occasions of amateur writing were relatively few and far between, but when they were there, it was painful. I also wish we’d been given more insight into the goblins. Who they are, why they do what they do, etc., etc. We didn’t know enough, and a more complete knowledge would have significantly added to the book. The writing may still lack a certain maturity at times, but the plot, the world, and the characters MORE than make up for it.
Honestly, those first two chapters, and the swearing were the only things that kept this book from getting a six star review, because I adored everything else about it. Also, I really want a physical copy of it. Because that cover is gorgeous. And I loved the book.
Hero/Heroine: Kat & Edward. Without giving anything away, I’ll attempt to explain everything I love about these two characters.
Kat: When creating a character like Kat, I often see authors make one of two mistakes: a whiny feminazi who ruins the entire book with her elitism and superiority, OR a boring cliched teenage girl who refuses to see the bigger picture – ever. Luckily, Kat was NEITHER of those things and I adored her! She stood up for herself and for others. She kept her head and was both fun and relatable. I wish there were more protagonists like Kat!
Edward: *Swoon* Ahhh, Prince Charming. (I cannot say enough how thankful I am that “Charming” was absolutely nowhere in Edward’s name. So sick of that. Anyway.) Edward was the Prince Charming I have been waiting for. I’ve read and watched countless Cinderella retellings, and there was always something off about the Prince. Something that I just didn’t like. Never could put my finger on it. But whatever it is, Aya Ling fixed it. Edward is a refreshing take on an age old cliche – this prince is dedicated to his country and his people, and absolutely hates social gatherings. He is also totally swoon-worthy, loves gardening, always knows what to say (but is still a flawed character) and I cannot even begin to describe his perfection.
Content Advisory: The swearing, though only S, B, D, and H, was excessive. I notice this often when adults are trying to write for teenagers. Swearing is thrown in randomly, and without any real meaning or usefulness – just kinda forced in. Some of the swearing had merit, and worked well, but some didn’t. Aside from that, there are some make out sessions, but nothing detailed or inappropriate. Mentions of rape, and of the horrific conditions of child labor in factories.Again, no more graphic than necessary.
Plot: You go into a fairytale retelling knowing the story – and counting on the characters and setting being interesting enough to make up for the lack of suspense. In The Ugly Stepsister the characters and setting were absolutely phenomenal — but so was the plot! For the first time in my fairytale retelling days, I was actually kept guessing the entire time! I’d think I knew exactly what was going to happen, and then Aya Ling would throw another curve ball. I was literally on the edge of my seat in excitement (and sometimes on the floor in despair) as I devoured this book. THE FEELS WILL KILL YOU AND YOU WILL LOVE IT.
Kat’s adventures (and misadventures) as she attempts to set up Prince Charming with Cinderella, find a fairy godmother, and organize a ball will keep you laughing (and screaming at the characters) for hours. You delve into a rich and meticulously created world of social classes and rules of etiquette and you enjoy every second of it. I’m probably not describing this book very well, but just know that you WILL LOVE IT. The Ugly Stepsister is probably my favorite fairy tale retelling – ever. It has taken incredible self restraint not to go full-on Caps Lock ASDFGHJKL fangirl on you during this review.
To Sum it Up: If you like fairytales at all — Please, please, please read this book! You will love it, I promise. Aya Ling manages to successfully tackle a very difficult premise (I’ve never before seen it accomplished to my satisfaction), while simultaneously keeping you engaged and invested in the story and happy with the ending. This was a very warm fuzzy happy book — and one that I will definitely be re-reading time and time again. One of THE BEST Cinderella retellings I have ever read (and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them) I would recommend The Ugly Stepsister for ages 14+.