3 out of 5 stars.
I was provided with an ARC.
I was torn on my feelings for this and its companion book. On the plus side, the premise of having people cursed to follow a fairy tale path is something I have really enjoyed in the past (See Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms series). I tend to be always in favour of fairy tale rewrites and this one has some clever allusions to some of the more obscure ones, as well as acknowledging the savagery and cruelty of some of the originals. No Disney-style ever afters here. The problems I had were mostly with the male romantic leads. In both this novel and Kill Me Softly, the main male love interests make choices about the heroine’s future without really clueing her in fully. Either Sarah Cross is making a clever point about how unfeminist fairy tales are (valid) or prefers an Edward Cullen like lead who takes it upon himself to save his woman without ever considering whether she would like to be saved in that manner or by him or at all, thank you very much. For me, one is excusable, one is not. With a new generation of princesses who are not just content to sit around and let fate swallow them, I am always hoping for a new generation of prince, who will treat his princess or goose girl or cinder wench like an equal partner in an adventure, not like a fragile statue who needs to be rescued. I also found that the books spent too much time looking at romantic relationships and not enough time on the others. This book starts to explore the relationship between Snow White and the Queen, coming to a tentative conclusion later, but I would have adored seeing that explored more. We get a glimpse of what princess expectations do to someone fated to be evil and it was awesome. If the author ever reads this, more of that please! That being said, I tend to not be a huge fan of kissey-times getting mixed up in my action, so people more interested in romance will probably enjoy this more than me.