Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly*

Step Sister by Jennifer Donnelly Book Cover

Stepsister Synopsis

Note: This review is spoiler-free!

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?

Why did I pick it?

I have loved many of Jennifer Donnelly’s previous books and so when I saw a new one from her I knew I had to pick it up at some point.

I’ll admit I was a little put off with it being a retelling, I’ve read a few retellings in the past and although I have enjoyed most of them I am getting a little bored with the theme, it feels like a fad.

What I loved about it

Although this is a retelling, I thought the approach was really unique. All the woman are strong characters and there was a strong feminist storyline throughout.

Jennifer Donnelly does an excellent job of taking characters such as the “evil stepmother” and changing the way we view them. She isn’t just “evil” she’s scared and worried that her daughters will be alone in the world, she does what she does out of desperation not pure evil. We learn that lots of other characters do what they do out of loneliness or jealously

Some of my favourite parts of the book are the dialogue between Chance and Fate. The fact that Chance loves to gamble and to travel without a plan are really clever characteristics and gives a voice and an extra layer to the story.

What I loathed about it

Although I enjoyed the book I’m disappointed I didn’t love it more. The story starts strong and finishes well, but it flattened out a little in the middle and didn’t keep the pace for me.


A retelling with a twist, what happens after happily ever after with some “strong girl” feminism thrown in.

When and where can you can get it

You can purchase Stepsister on Amazon today


* Book provided FOC in exchange for an honest and fair review

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