MINI-REVIEW: “Stepsister” by Jennifer Donnelly


Title: Stepsister
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Pages: 352

Release Date: May 14 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating:  4.09 (of 5,586 ratings)


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.


“This world, the people in it […] they sort us. Put us in crates. You are an egg. You are a potato. You are a cabbage. They tell us who we are. What we will do. What we will be.”
“Because they’re afraid. Afraid of what we could be,” Tavi said. 
“But we let them do it!” Hugo said angrily. “Why?”
Tavi gave him a rueful smile. “Because we’re afraid of what we could be, too.”

— Stepsister, p.265-266

Stepsister follows the life of Isabelle, Cinderella’s ugly stepsister. The story picks up when the prince arrives to try the glass slipper on Ella and the stepsisters.

This is a psychological, moral-driven story that fleshes out the well-known characters. It’s a book that slowly introduces feminism to a girl who was raised to chip away her individuality and sell herself to society as a perfect wife.

Why is no one talking about this book?

Reading Isabelle’s thoughts, I sometimes forgot this book was fantasy. Her problems were so real.

📌 Isabelle is flawed. We know this from the moment we pick up the book (hello, she torments her stepsister and tries to trick a prince.) She is cognizant of her flaws but fears change because of how society will react.

📌 stepsister Octavia goes through her own struggles to embrace her more studious personality. even the evil stepmother earned sympathy and understanding from me.

📌 new characters the crone, the marquis, and the fairy queen all bring magic and Donnelly’s unique spin to this tale. my favourite: the fairy queen.

moanaIf you haven’t read this book, if it’s not on your TBR, DO IT NOW. Please. There is a special kind of magic in this book that awakens the soul and reminds women that their fate is their own, their power is their own, and beauty comes from embracing their strength. love love love love love love.


representation: n/a
content warnings: animal slaughter house, war, animal death, human death


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What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!


6 thoughts on “MINI-REVIEW: “Stepsister” by Jennifer Donnelly

  1. Oh my gosh, yes!! I’m in the middle of listening to this right now, and I totally agree with you. There are so many Cinderella retellings out there and this feels so unique! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, great review💜💜


  2. Great review, Sha! I have an ARC of this (but I never read it lol what’s new here) I kind of hesitated because I was afraid it would dump on Cindy’s story/personality..but you got my interests peaked again.


  3. A patron recommended this to me and I really want to read it, but your positive review is going to make me search out the audiobook and put it on hold!


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