This book challenges the very definition of beauty and it was thrilling to read every single page.
Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince.
Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.
This story centres around the ugly stepsisters from Cinderella, Isabelle and Octavia. This isn’t a pretty tale like Cinderella, it’s dark, brutal and twisted. The sisters are forced to cut off their toes/heel to fit into the glass slipper in order to marry the prince, obviously Ella ends up with the prince as per the tale but it’s so interesting to read from the other side of the tale.
Having to conform to societal pressures of that time where women are meant to be pretty and keep quiet, the sisters are neither of these things. Octavia (Tavi) is smart and endearing and Isabelle is fearless and strong.
Ostracised for their treatment of Ella, they are outcasts, hated and mocked by everyone. It’s not only the villagers against them, Isabelle’s fate is not in her own hands. What she doesn’t know is that her fate has been decided with her death edging closer and closer. The crone (from the three fates) competes with a Marquis called Chance over Isabelle’s fate. They are two sides of the same coin, both ancient and determined to have a hand in Isabelle’s fate.
Isabelle herself goes on a journey of discovery, despite outside influences from Chance and Fate, she learns who she really is. While she knows that she isn’t pretty in the typical sense, her beauty comes from a much deeper and truer place. She’s strong, fierce and determined.
She faces many challenges and overcomes them all. While initially thinking her hearts desire is to be pretty, she realises that her future can be anything she wants it to be, only if she’s brave enough to want it.
I loved this book! So much. Isabelle’s story is so relevant today. Showing that beauty isn’t only on the outside, beauty comes from intelligence, strength, determination and honesty. This book challenges the very definition of beauty and it was thrilling to read every single page.
I can’t wait to see what else Jennifer Donnelly writes!