The Ugly Stepsister  by Aya Ling is a fun little remix on an old classic


Despite the serious nature of the cover, The Ugly Stepsister is a light, funny RomCom revision of Cinderella.  It would be more appropriate if her lovely blue dress was blowing up and showing her drawers because that is about how things go for this misplaced protagonist.  If you are looking for a little fairy tale escape, this is a refreshing and imaginative frolick.  Some people won’t like the antics and tropes the writer employs, but I found it rather delightful.

A modern teen rips a storybook by accident and is transported into the story of Cinderella where she must play the role of an ugly stepsister until she is released by a happily ever after ending.  When key characters are missing and events start playing out wrong, that storybook ending starts looking impossible, and no modern girl could want to spend the rest of her life in this not-so-idyllic setting, or could she? If this sounds ridiculous, it is (a fact that the protagonist points out frequently).  There was a moment when I thought this was going to be a long, punishing read of amateurish proportions.  There is always that danger when you read indie works.  This does have some elements that could have been more polished, but I’m glad I pressed on beyond that one moment because it is worth the read.  I do have to say, Purists, beware – If you are looking for a sophisticated and serious reimagining, skip this one, but if you are up for a bumbling romp, this is exactly what you want to read. Kat, the protagonist, is my girl, and I knew it when she admitted she couldn’t function around beautiful boys and that Anne of Green Gables was her comfort book.  She is awkward and completely unsuited for the role she is thrust into, but boy does she play it like a champ.  I liked this Prince Charming more than others, and I think he will wrap more than a few readers around his unassuming finger.  The plot was interesting because Kat kept trying to make characters and events fit into her expectations, and though there was an element of predictability, the twists and turns that grew out of mishaps and miscues kept turning up things that surprised me.  Her modern sensibilities didn’t jive so well with the social structure of storybook land, either, and her campaign for equality adds a nice laugh and a depth to Kat’s character that I hadn’t expected.  If you liked the tv series Lost in Austen, this is a similar treatment, so chances are good you will enjoy this book.  I think my YA RomCom readers will enjoy this.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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