4 out of 5 stars.
I received an ARC of this work.
This is a rewrite of Cinderella, with dashes of other fairy tales mixed in.
Cynthia is living as a servant in her own house, tirelessly working away to please her stepmother and stepsisters. She is at the market shopping when she stumbles across an enchanted frog who claims to be a prince. Cynthia promises to help Remi find a princess to break his enchantment, on top of her other work.
I really liked this version of Cinderella because Cynthia has a backbone and gets some of her own back in her interactions with her step family. The Disney version always annoyed me (especially the new live-action one) because the Cinderella character is basically a doormat and never tries to rebel or act out. In this version she does, and I appreciate the interesting ways she finds to make her stepfamilies lives just a little harder.
Cynthia is also not trying to escape her fate by marrying a prince. She decides to go to the royal ball in order to find a princess for Remi. It is a complete accident when she catches the eye of the prince, and she tries to avoid him afterwards. Cynthia is prepared to find her own way out of her predicaments and is not using marriage as an escape.
Jennings included the dead mother as a tree component from the original fairy tale and I really appreciated that. I like it when authors refers to the original and not just the popular Disney versions of the fairy tales. The originals have interesting and sometimes gruesome details that really spice them up.
Cynthia’s relationship with Remi is wonderfully done. It is a very realistic portrayal of friendship and how important it is, without it immediately dissolving into romance. It is so nice when a girl and boy can have a non-romantic, meaningful relationship in books and this one is sweet and recognizable as a true friendship.
This is another excellent addition to a series I have thoroughly enjoyed. Jennings does some very interesting things to her fairy tales and they end up being a joy to read.