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The Stepsister Scheme (PRINCESS NOVELS) Mass Market Paperback – January 6, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: PRINCESS NOVELS (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: DAW (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756405327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756405328
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim C. Hines has been a paid juggler, earned a black belt in two different martial arts, performed yo-yo tricks at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and lived with a brain-damaged squirrel. (Only three of those are true.) One of his earliest stories earned first place in the Writers of the Future contest. He’s published more than forty short stories as well as numerous fantasy novels, including the humorous Jig the Dragonslayer trilogy, the Princess series, which re-imagines traditional fairy-tale princesses as butt-kicking action heroines, and the Magic Ex Libris series, about a centuries-old secret society dedicated to the use and control of book magic. In 2012, he won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife, two children, and an unstable number of pets. He can be found online at www.jimchines.com.

More About the Author

Jim C. Hines' latest book is CODEX BORN, the second in his modern-day fantasy series about a magic-wielding librarian, a dryad, a secret society founded by Johannes Gutenberg, a flaming spider, and an enchanted convertible. He's also the author of the PRINCESS series of fairy tale retellings as well as the humorous GOBLIN QUEST trilogy. His short fiction has appeared in more than 50 magazines and anthologies. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife and two children. He's currently hard at work on REVISIONARY, the fourth (and final?) book in the MAGIC EX LIBRIS series. Online, he can be found at http://www.jimchines.com.

Customer Reviews

This book was a pretty fun read.
ChibiNeko
I love fairy tales, retold fairy tales, and twisted fairy tales - and this book tops my list.
C. Vandehey
It's worth reading, and I look forward to the next two already-announced books in the series.
Mike Garrison

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By C. Vandehey on January 8, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Danielle De Glas, aka Princess Whiteshore, aka Cinderella, is having a hard time adjusting to palace life. She loves her prince, Armand, but going from the life of a slave to that of princess isn't easy. To complicate matters, three months after her wedding, Danielle is attacked by her stepsister, Charlotte. The assassination attempt fails, but Charlotte escapes - after telling Danielle she'll never see her beloved Armand again.

This is the set up. Danielle, along with two other princesses (Snow White and Talia, aka Sleeping Beauty), must rescue her prince. Along the way, the true histories of all three princesses are revealed, vs. the "tales" circulating about them. Hines makes excellent use of the darker versions of these fairy tales, rather than the dressed up happily-ever-after versions we are more familiar with.

I love fairy tales, retold fairy tales, and twisted fairy tales - and this book tops my list. Unable to put it down for long, I finished it in one day, and at the end, I turned the last page hoping for more. Very real, well drawn characters draw you in to the story, and fantastic descriptions, world building, adventure, and emotion keep you glued to the pages. At times, I was reminded of movies like Labyrinth or the Dark Crystal (for setting). Shades of Ever After, as well, but I say these only as a passing feeling of nostalgic warm fuzzies (all movies I liked or loved to one degree or another). This book stands completely on its own. Touches like Snow's snowflake "throwing stars" or Danielle's glass sword are unique and perfect for the story Hines is telling. I kept turning pages, not only for the story, but to see what lovely little bits of scenery Hines would include next.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 7, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
To be honest, I'm always a bit wary of books that take fairy tales as source materials. Too often, I've found, they fall into a few typical traps. One is they become enslaved by the structure of one cute explanation/cute twist per each plot point of the original fairy tale, so that the twists themselves become predictable: beat one, two, twist, beat one, two, twist. Another is they become so enamored in the humor aspect of their "humorous retelling" that they lose sight of the "telling" aspect--so the plot is unoriginal and dull. Another is that they think the reader brings the character to the story so they don't need to bother with actual characterization.
I'm happy to say that Jim Hine's new book, The Stepsister Scheme, sidesteps all these pitfalls nicely and is a thoroughly enjoyable and intelligent novel, one that returns to the darker roots of fairy tales rather than the later "prettied up" versions. The story opens soon after Princess Danielle (Cinderella) has wed her Prince (currently off on a trip). One of her stepsisters, wielding unexpected magic, tries to kill her but is prevented by Talia (Sleeping Beauty), whose birth gifts of fairy graces has turned her into a perfect warrior (if not a particularly cheery one). Before escaping, Danielle's sister lets her know that her husband Prince Armand has been kidnapped. Soon, Danielle and Talia, joined by Snow White wielding her evil stepmother's mirror magic, head off to Fairyland, where it seems Armand is being held. Fairyland is a dangerous place for mortals though, despite an uneasy truce signed long ago when the two races nearly fought each to extinction.
Throwing the three women together was a masterstroke, allowing him three times the material to play with.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mike Garrison on March 7, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
For those who don't know, Jim C. Hines's previous "Jig The Goblin" series (starting with Goblin Quest) is one of the best sendups of fantasy roleplaying games ever. If you have ever played any D&D or the like, you must read them. But ... The Stepsister Scheme is NOT the same sort of book at all.

That's not to say it's not funny, because it is. However, it's not a fairytale parody. Instead, it's a full-on action adventure that reimagines the fairytale world and characters. The closest thing to it that I know of is actually Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the series, not the movie). The humor abounds, and the irony even more so, but the book itself is "played straight".

If you only know the Disney version of these fairytale princesses then you may be a little surprised by some of the details revealed about their "true" stories. However, cruising even something like Wikipedia will reveal the older and darker tales that Hines uses for backstory. For instance, the original Sleeping Beauty was named Talia, and yes, the king that found her asleep did a bit more than just kiss her awake.

So don't expect the book to be as lighthearted as the Jig stories. Instead, you must expect that there are some painful and emotionally challenging scenes. But there is also a lot of fun and adventure, with swords and spells flying back and forth freely. And the kiss of a true love can still break the evil enchantments. It's just that you might not be expecting who the true loves end up being....

This is not, by the way, a book I would recommend for young kids. Teens should be fine, but it's really aimed at the adult audience. Again, I would compare it to Buffy TVS in this respect.

It's worth reading, and I look forward to the next two already-announced books in the series.
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