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Stepsister
2019
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Summary

Isabelle should be blissfully happy - she's about to marry a prince. Except that Isabelle isn't the girl who lost the slipper. And the glass shoe on her foot is filling with blood . . .

Isabelle isn't the beauty who captured the prince's heart. She's the ugly stepsister who cut off her toes to fool him. When the prince discovers Isabelle's deception, she's banished. It's no more than Isabelle deserves. She's a plain girl in a world that values beauty. A stubborn girl in a world that wants her to be pliant. Her destiny is a life of misery.

That's what Isabelle believes until she finds herself in the midst of a battle between Fate and Chance. Cruel Fate believes that an "ugly" girl with so much bitterness in her heart can never change her destiny. Roguish Chance believes otherwise. And so, Isabelle is given the opportunity to harness strength she never knew she possessed, and learns that while "pretty" is a noose around your neck, "ugly" is the sword that cuts you free.

Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Donnelly brilliantly reimagines what happens after the "happily ever" in "Cinderella," from the point of view of Ella's ugly stepsister Isabelle. As in the original Grimms' tale, Isabelle cut off her toes to fit into the glass slipper but failed to win the prince. Her destiny has long been drawn by the ancient female Fates who map each human life. Their charming rival Chance steals Isabelle's map and wagers the oldest Fate that he can change the path of Isabelle's life, thus beginning a chess match with Isabelle as the pawn. Despite Isabelle's best efforts to behave, her anger always wins out, especially after the hypocritical townspeople shun and ridicule her and her smart older sister Tavi for how they treated Ella. Isabelle's lost everything-her beloved horse Nero and the groom's son Felix, with whom she spent her childhood riding and sparring. Tanaquill, the fairy queen, shows herself to Isabelle and says she will grant her greatest wish if Isabelle can "find the lost pieces of her heart." Military history-loving Isabelle must use her wits, courage, and strength to withstand the many hardships she faces as she tries to forge her own way. She learns to value herself and not let others define her or what she can do. VERDICT This first-rate fairy-tale retelling effectively portrays female strength and determination and will resonate with readers who want to be valued for who they are, not what they look like.-Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
I have known battle-hardened soldiers who could not do what you did,"" the grand vizier tells Isabelle de la Paumé after, on her mother's behest, she cuts off her toes so she can fit her foot into a glass slipper and win a prince's hand in marriage. He doesn't mean it as a compliment: ""She is unnatural. Unhinged. Dangerous."" In the end, it is Isabelle's beautiful stepsister, Ella, who marries the prince, and Isabelle's remaining family is shunned. Ugly and disfigured Isabelle's destiny seems mapped and set. But elsewhere, Fate and Chance are at odds. Fate, a wily crone, and Chance, a mischievous young man, have wagered on Isabelle de la Paumé. Chance believes she can alter her sad future; Fate thinks it's better that she doesn't. When Isabelle is tasked with finding the pieces of her heart, she holds in her hands not only her own destiny but also the fates of many. Printz Honor Book author Donnelly offers up a stunningly focused story that rips into the heart of a familiar fairy tale. The gorgeous prose and the fairy tale themes have obvious appeal, but the real strengths here are the depth of character across the board; the examination of the cost of beauty in a world that reveres it; and Isabelle herself, a shattered but not unredeemable girl with a warrior's heart. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Donnelly's books are at the sweet spot best-selling award winners and as she tackles the always-popular Cinderella story, she'll have no trouble finding an audience.--Maggie Reagan Copyright 2019 Booklist
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