Author(s): Jennifer Donnelly
'In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters - a maiden, a mother, and a crone - are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life . . .'
Stepsister takes up where Cinderella's tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella's two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn't matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty . . .
Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?
In a house on the edge of St Michel hard times have fallen on its inhabitants — three girls and their mother. When the handsome prince calls looking for the beautiful girl with whom he danced at the ball the previous night, Octavia and Isabelle cut off their toes in an attempt to fit into the glass slipper, but end up only trailing blood in the dirt. Then Cinderella escapes from the attic, pulls the other glass slipper from her ragged pocket, steps into it and rides off into the sunset with her prince.
Meanwhile, Fate, an old crone, and Chance, a dashing marquis, are locked in a furious battle over what happens next on Isabelle’s life map. Fate is adamant that mortals cannot be allowed to make their own choices, but Chance has seen some good in Isabelle’s character and wants to give her the opportunity to recognise her strengths and overcome the jealousy and resentment at how her life has turned out so far.
Donnelly vividly re-imagines the story of Cinderella in this “sequel” in which traitorous soldiers rise up against the King. Isabelle discovers their plot, but can she pluck up the courage to alter her destiny?
In the original fairytale the two stepsisters are ugly and cruel and Cinderella is the beautiful, kind girl. But in Donnelly’s version we discover the back story to what turned these once great friends into bullies and victims.
Stepsister is a wonderful and very funny feminist fairytale for age 13+ that redefines how we value the notion of beauty and emphasises the fact that girls can do anything.
Jennifer Donnelly is the author of thirteen novels and a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State and studied English Literature and European History at the University of Rochester.
Jennifer's first novel, THE TEA ROSE, is an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century. Her second novel, A GATHERING LIGHT, set against the backdrop of an infamous murder in the Adirondacks of 1906, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book.
In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling WATERFIRE saga, an epic series about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil.
Jennifer lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter and two rescue dogs. Follow Jennifer at www.jenniferdonnelly.com or on Twitter: @JenWritesBooks