First things first: I received a free copy of Five Glass Slippers in exchange for my honest review. Five Glass Slippers is a delightful collection of five retellings of the Cinderella story by Elisabeth Brown, Emma Clifton, Rachel Heffington, Stephanie Ricker, and Clara Diane Thompson.
What Eyes Can See by Elisabeth Brown
“Drusilla watched the stepsisters exchange tense glances. The two were as different as light and shadow: Anastasia vivacious, sparkling—Arella quiet, retiring. Anastasia would never understand why Arella hated these functions, and Arella would never understand why Anastasia loved them. Drusilla, her personality falling somewhere between these polar opposites, had always acted as the buffer, doing her best to understand both of her little sisters and keep the peace.”
Arella doesn’t really enjoy balls or any other social events. In fact, she avoids them as much as possible. Why? Because she’s shy. She won’t even open up to her loving stepfamily – Duchess Germaine, Drulissa, and Anastasia. However, nothing she says can get her out of going to this ball – the one where Prince Frederick is supposed to choose a bride. Luckily, practical, well-mannered, kind, and gentle Drulissa is willing to help her through the night. But by the next morning, the shoe fits, Prince Frederick is besotted, and Arella is mortified by the prince’s attentions. Fortuitously, Drulissa has enough sense and decorum and is willing to help Arella through again, but how long until the prince gives up?
As I mentioned before, Arella is extremely shy. Honestly, she was the only character that didn’t seem three dimensional. Her desperation to get away from the incredibly persistent Prince Frederick leads her to drastic measures that seemed a little improbable but not entirely unbelievable. While there didn’t seem to be much character development in Arella, she quietly endears herself to the reader before the end.
Drulissa is a fantastic character! She has real doubts and insecurities, and that is exactly what makes her believable. For everyone else, she is a rock, putting the needs of other before her own desires, she is very responsible. Her occasional inner dialogue (the story is told in the third person so we get to dip into her mind) is very believable and was one of my favorite parts of the story. Her growth over the course of the story is natural and smooth leaving a very nice taste in the reader’s mind.
Frederick is also a very authentic character. Sometimes I was a little annoyed with how slow he was to realize certain things, but as the story progressed he caught things a little faster. The “Aha!” moment for him was positively priceless – a classic “Oh, why didn’t I think of that before” scene. He grew and gained a lot of depth over the course of the story (by the way, it is amazing that Ms. Brown managed such a seamless, natural transition over the course of only 88 pages).
What Eyes Can See is a sweet retelling of the original Cinderella story with an interesting twist. Sometimes the story seemed to need a little more color, but the style was very consistent with pacing that seemed realistic. As I said before, the characters’ development was exceptional! While the overall storytelling is sweet, the believable, relatable characters definitely steal What Eyes Can See. I give this more classic retelling four out of five stars with a G rating.
Broken Glass by Emma Clifton
“Rosalind shoved past the attendants who tried to help her into the steam carriage. A very meek Henry clambered in across from her. She acknowledged him with a sniff and crossed her arms. Moments later the steam carriage sputtered to life and began bumbling down the road.”
It’s the morning after the royal ball, and fiery Rosalind is furious to find that the shoe of Crown Prince Marius’ “beloved” fits her. She doesn’t want Prince Marius! She already has his younger brother Prince Henry. But the shoe fits, and she is practically dragged to the palace. The king pronounces her and Marius engaged even though they clearly disdain each other. Marius says that Rosalind isn’t his beloved, but no one but Marius and Rosalind care that they might murder each other. They try to find a way out with the suspicious help of Marius’ shady other younger brother Darcy. Henry seems ready to just roll over and let Rosalind be forced to marry Marius without a fight. And where is Marius’ girl anyway?
Rosalind is a very spirited and high minded young woman. Headstrong, she takes charge and gets what she wants. What I like about her is that despite her fieriness, she can be vulnerable not one of those macho heroines who doesn’t need anyone. While she doesn’t change as much as I would have liked, her growth is satisfying by the end of the story.
Marius is also very spirited. He makes sure everyone knows what he wants – I mean come on, he’s the crown prince and that’s expected. Marius’ attitude about certain things change and is very believable. I wish I could say more about his character development, but I can’t say anything much without giving too much away.
As mentioned before, Henry’s the roll over, go-right-ahead-and-tread-on-me sort. But he changed so much over the course of the story! We find that he wasn’t weak – he was meek (they aren’t synonyms, meekness is power under control)! He adds so much to this story and is so much more than he originally seems.
Broken Glass is a fast-paced, funny, and surprising retelling! The dialogue is witty and the style entertaining. An interesting ending (which I sadly cannot divulge) leaves the reader wanting more stories from this author with these characters – or at the very least more with this style. I give this steampunk retelling four out of five stars with a PG rating.
The Windy Side of Care by Rachel Heffington
“I swear before the Court of Ashby, the birth certificates were switched!” I shouted. “How else have I, Lady Alisandra Carlisle, obtained the features of our royalty? If Auguste Blenheim is Ashbian to the core, can you explain why he is short and dark as coal smuts when every royal has been fair and tall since the Ancient Days?”
Alisandra Carlisle is certain that she is the daughter of the king and queen of Ashby. Her small problem is that her stepfamily has her doing servants’ chores and a prince currently sits on her throne… and she lacks funds and solid evidence of her claims – except for the fact that she looks like the girl version of the king. Being the scheming sort, Alis isn’t about to let such pesky details get in her way. After some careful planning and recruiting, she is ready to take the throne… but then she accidently meets Prince Auguste and things start to change. He isn’t as bad as she thought he would be. In fact, she rather likes him. Will Alis carry out her treasonous plan, or will she give up the throne and her dreams for a prince? Oh, and how did he end up as the prince anyhow?
Auguste is wonderfully hilarious. Truthfully, he doesn’t want to be king. All Auguste wants is to live a normal life – which, in my opinion, is understandable albeit selfish. I think I saw more growth in Auguste than in Alis. His outlook on the court is very entertaining, and he quickly had me rooting for him while his selfishness discreetly faded away.
Alis is self-assured and scheming. She is a very likeable heroine with a sharp mind. At first, I wasn’t exceptionally fond of her, but her sardonic yet endearing attitude quickly changed my mind. She starts out a little selfish, much like Auguste, but by the end she learns the meaning of self sacrifice.
The Windy Side of Care is a witty, cute retelling. The pacing seemed a little too fast for Alis and Auguste to get from point A to point B after meeting each other, but with the other conflicts to tie up, I’m glad Ms. Heffington didn’t drag out their love story. Other than that, this story was fantastic! I thoroughly enjoyed it and therefore give it four out of five stars with a PG rating.
A Cinder’s Tale by Stephanie Ricker
“Through her viewscreen, Elsa eyed the patch of bubbling lava warily. Pumpkin patches, so named because the superheated lava puffed out in large bubbles, were notorious for blowing up without a moment’s notice. Any sane person would want to get as far away from them as possible.
Of course, any sane person wouldn’t sign up for a job as a cinder in the first place. The pay was good, but the life expectancy left something to be desired.”
Elsa is a cendrillion miner (aka: cinder) on a toxic planet called Aschen. It’s a dangerous job – you could easily die a number of different ways, but it’s good money and where Elsa’s friends Bruno, Jaq, and Gus are. Exciting as the job and life on the space station are, it’s nothing compared to the surprising news that the Sovereign – a space frigate captained by one of the greatest war heroes of their time, known as “the King” – is coming to dock at the station. And this particular captain loves ballroom dancing… and his lieutenant happens to by his very eligible son who is called “the Prince”… and the king is throwing a party for the station. And then an alien fay named Marainne shows up at the station working as a cinder right alongside Elsa and company. But what is a frigate like the Sovereign doing so far away from the fleet? And what is a captain like the King doing at a mining station? And what is a fay doing collecting cendrillion ore?
Elsa is a likable person. What I specifically like about Elsa is her work ethic – she is one of her stations top collectors, any hard worker I find instantly endearing. Also, Elsa’s dynamic with her friends is very interesting – she can be motherly, sisterly, or daughterly. In some ways, she seemed a little too good, but not to such a degree that she wasn’t believable or likeable. She is also one of those characters that didn’t need to develop and she didn’t. Normally, I would be frustrated by this, but it suited the story and the character.
A Cinder’s Tale is a unique, sci-fi retelling. Usually, I don’t really like spacey, sci-fi books because the descriptions are trying too hard, but I was pleasantly surprised by the tale that Ms. Ricker produced. The world (or space, I guess it would be called) that she depicts is vivid and tangible, but not too in-your-face extraterrestrial. There were no moments in this story when I was thinking, “Space! I get it! Space ships! I get it!” like I have when reading other sci-fi stories. Also, Ms. Ricker’s take on and imagining of the space frigate was refreshing and distinctive. The ending was open enough to allow for sequels which I will be on the lookout for and have heard are coming. I give this interstellar retelling four out of five stars with a PG rating.
The Moon Master’s Ball by Clara Diane Thompson
“A gap between the cottages and Winslow Manor gave her a perfect view of Bromley Meadow—to most people, a place of magic and delight.
To Tilly, a place of fear.”
Tilly is your average girl working as the maid in your average rich guy’s mansion in your average little village. Except she isn’t, he isn’t, and it isn’t. Once a year, Bromley Fair appears nearly out of nowhere in Bromley Meadow and stays to delight the townsfolk for a week before vanishing. But the last time Tilly went to Bromley Fair, she was scarred for life – literally. Now whenever the Fair comes around, Tilly makes certain to steer very clear of it. But then all sorts of strange things start happening – Tilly’s employer – Lord Hollingberry – hires a strange woman as the housekeeper, Lord Hollingberry starts acting strange himself, and the house begins to stink of magic. And then Bromley Fair arrives. Lord Hollingberry sends Tilly into the Fair with a mysterious message for the even more mysterious Moon Master and suddenly everything is more than it appears. Will Tilly be able to figure out the riddles and mysteries before it’s too late? And will she even survive the Moon Master’s ball?
Tilly is a very authentic character. From the moment the story begins, the reader empathizes strongly with her. We all have had those moments when we didn’t get something we think we deserved, and Tilly is no exception. She doesn’t whine or complain about the position that she didn’t get, but the reader feels her disappointment and frustration as she struggles to stamp out her feelings of jealousy and self-pity. Also, her fear of the Fair is very rational and realistic. The reader feels bad for her and apprehensive with her as she is sent into Bromley Fair. This isn’t one of those stories where the reader thinks to himself “I have no doubt she’ll overcome this fear”. There were several times when I wondered if Tilly would make it, but that’s exactly what made her real.
The Moon Master’s Ball is an intriguing, suspenseful retelling. It was a little creepy, but not so much that I couldn’t sleep at night. Ms. Thompson did an excellent job with Tilly and keeping me guessing as to just what was going on for real. Another thing that I appreciated was that the element of romance was not overdone, cheesy, or unbelievable. Therefore, I give this thrilling retelling four out of five stars with a PG rating.
In conclusion, Five Glass Slippers is a very diverse collection of Cinderella stories. While it would be possible for me to pick a favorite solely because of my genre preferences, all five stories are interesting and engaging. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates retellings because the five – more the classic with a twist, the steampunk, the Shakespearian, sci-fi, and thriller – within are fantastic and each adds a new level to the Cinderella story. As a whole, I give Five Glass Slippers four out of five satisfied stars and a PG rating.