With wonderful characters and unique twists to the Cinderella story, this is a delightfully thought-provoking and fun rendition of the story. I have a few small caveats (mostly to do with pacing), but as I think overall they stem from the demands of being in a series, the enjoyments pretty thoroughly outweigh them.
#1: I loved her twist with the stepmother and sisters, more especially as I think it has definite overtones from Ever After. :) So with the stepmother, everything from her fair skin and dark hair to the very play of action as she first enters the story. Also, I always feel like the Baroness in EA could have gone a different way (and initially might have, if Danielle’s father had been alive to gentle her), but instead she closes herself up in bitterness and then that root grows, propelling her downward. So to me Chantal de Saint-Andre here is that glimmering “might have been” -- only more so.
#2: And no spoilers, but I heartily love the entire puzzle and ensuing conflict revolving around (and from) Raoul. Some key bit was hovering in my brain the whole time I was reading, but I still might not have caught it if I hadn’t been gearing up to read Wuthering Heights this month… There are some very definite Heathcliff elements to his character! Both in his very situation and also his fiery, passionate, vehemently restrained, fierce-yet-grinning-under-the-lash personality. And I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that it all pretty much inverts, which is delightfully lovely. ;)
Throughout, there are some beautiful, unexpected little nuggets (a lot, actually). But here are two of my favorites:
“Old Mathilde’s spoon circled in the pot like a hawk after a mouse. “What makes you think that responsibility lies with you alone?” she asked. “You made a wish, that much is true, but you did not wish for anyone to be made unhappy. You made a wish for love. In my experience, such wishes have a way of coming true in the end, which is not the same as saying the journey isn’t difficult and long.”
“Remember what you promised yourself, Cendrillon, I thought fiercely. Never regret love.”
So yes, in conclusion this is a fun, highly enjoyable read with characters I’m now thoroughly pleased to count as friends!!