Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

by Aya Ling
YA Fairy Tale Retelling
452 Pages

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?


What a unique twist on Cinderella! Kat is actually a really sweet, very caring teenage girl, so when she gets stuck in a place where only playing out the role of the ugly stepsister will let her return home, she's got quiet the quest on her hands. I wondered right away how she was going to go against her own being and help Cinderella find her Prince Charming. The result is a bunch of unexpected twists and surprises.

It took me a few pages to get into this simply because the first chapters felt a little if it still needed a little work. But after that, I was grabbed up in Kat's world and couldn't let go. Kat is a wonderful character, full of heart and strength and good sense. . .even if she does some spontaneous things at times. It's easy to love her and cheer for her as she hit the realm where she's captive in unexpected and earth-shattering ways. 

The fairy tale world is easy to dive into, the descriptions bringing it to life. Although it takes part in a whole different reality, there's still bits of our modern world thrown in, making it that much more fun to be apart of. Of course, there's all the wonderful dresses and foods and parties and all those rich things a Cinderella would never have been able to take part in. I enjoyed getting lost in this high-society world.

The plot runs along nicely, never missing a beat. The author throws in all sorts of twists which added a lot of depth and dimension to the traditional story. There were times where the twists were extremely predictable (and it was hard to believe Kat couldn't see it), but many came out of nowhere and were nice surprises. I especially enjoyed the added bits of magic and could practically feel the fairy dust by the end as everything slid into place. The ending was not unexpected, and felt a little too familiar, but it was still fun to read.

I was a little disappointed at the end, but there's nothing really wrong with it--more a matter of personal taste. Maybe my disappointment came because I'd grown to like Kat that much.

Summed up, this is a great twist on Cinderella and while it adds a lot of new twists and original ideas to the story, there's also enough from the original tale to make the entire thing feel familiar.  I can only recommend it to fairy tale retelling fans who dream of happy ever afters.

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