Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Promise Kept: Being a Review of The Stepsister Scheme

In November of 2007, I had the great good fortune to help organize the Fantasy Matters Conference in Minneapolis. It was an amazing, if exhausting, experience, and I got to meet a number of really cool people, whose names I am not going to attempt to list, for fear that this will turn into something akin to one of those award acceptance speeches wherein the actor thanks her dogwalker, but not her mom.

During that weekend, I got to hear readings from two unpublished books, that made me really look forward to the finished works. One of which was The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. This is not a review of that book. (Although it is gorgeous, with a seeming effortlessness to it that delights me as a reader, and makes me really envious as a writer. Go read it.)

The other book, which this is a review of, was The Stepsister Scheme, by Jim C. Hines. I am a sucker for a retold fairy tale, so I was excited about the book even before Jim's reading. After Jim's reading, I was even more excited. We had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: That was so good. When is it coming out?
Jim: January.
Me: (Counts months. Realizes that January follows November fairly closely.) Excellent!
Jim: Of 2009.
Me: Oh.

It was worth the wait. The Stepsister Scheme is what happens after the "happily ever after," starring Danielle (Cinderella), Talia (Sleeping Beauty), and Snow (who I will not make grumpy by listing her real name.) It's a vastly entertaining read, with just the right mix of peril and comedy. The women are real people, complex and compelling characters, especially Talia, who I hope to see more of in the upcoming novels in this series. 

But my favorite bits of the book are the details. The quick reference to one of my favorite poems, Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market. Talia's fencing, which is actual fencing. The descriptions of Snow's mirror magic. And the reality of the interactions between the three women.

A recent post on Jim's blog announces the sale of the fourth book in the series, with an expected publication date of 2011. Happily ever after, indeed.

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