Review: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. HinesHow did I get it: The library.

Why did I get it: Confession time. I’ve actually checked out this book many, many times. In fact, let preface this review by admitting that this is the fifth time I’ve had to attempt or restart this book. My first few attempts at getting through Stepsister Scheme were in the summer and I made one attempt in the fall. Every time I got distracted by other books. This time I was determined to just get through it.

How I would rate it: 3 out of 5 stars – Okay, but not exactly what I was hoping for.

My Summary: Danielle aka Cinderella is trying to find her husband, a prince who has been stolen away by her evil stepsisters. She gets help not only from Talia aka Sleeping Beauty but also Snow aka Snow White. As they learn to work together and Danielle learns more about becoming her own person, they also have to free not only the prince but themselves from some of the worst fairy tale villains available.

My Review: Writing this review was very, very hard and I feel bad about my rating. As honest as it is in terms of how I feel and felt as a reader, I am super unhappy that I feel this way.

I wanted to love the heck out of this book and I don’t and that sucks! The Stepsister Scheme should have been awesome for me. The book has got three main female protagonists, it takes place in the land of fairy tales, and it is exactly the sort of book I wanted when I was 12 years old. So color me so frustrated that after finally finishing it, my first thought was  “Well, at least that’s over and done with.”

Anyway, let’s look at why that is as we move on to what I actually thought of the book’s contents. 

The Good: Great world. Great ideas. Great changes. Ditto the villains and character concepts over all. The writing was okay too. There were some genuinely amusing moments that worked and some touching scenes.

I love familiar stories being made a bit darker and actually given some grim elements so I really, really liked the back stories all across the board. And I loved Talia and Snow. Had this book been “The Talia and Snow Show” with some Danielle thrown in, I would be giving this book a 4 and a 1/2 star rating. Alas, this was not to be.

The Bad: I did not like Danielle. I did not like her quite intensely. In fact, Danielle is the type of character I never like. She’s the character you don’t need that is there to be new, normal, and confused in order for everyone else to explain the world, team dynamics, or setting to the reader.

Sometimes a character like Danielle works for other readers. Unfortunately it never works for me.  I want to be fully submerged in the world, team, or setting exactly as it is, not kept on the sidelines or edge of those things by someone who doesn’t seem to have a clue about the world he or she inhabits. So in my opinion, Danielle was a character that made for a better door than a window. Since she was basically the most central figure in this story, that presented quite a problem for me and it’s why I gave up on the book several times.

Of course Danielle got better as the story moved on, but I felt like her quest to save her husband in of itself did not really need 344 pages to be told. I did not enjoy really any aspect of the plot. I just felt so bored and frustrated most of the time by the slow progress of events and how long everything took to get addressed or resolved. It literally takes the three princesses more than a month to save the prince from his kidnappers, and it felt like months for me as a reader. I just kept hoping they would move on and do something more interesting with their collective time (or at least with Talia’s), but that never happened

The Conclusion: Stepsister Scheme was okay. Fun at times with a few cool characters, but it wasn’t a great book for me. I would however suggest looking at it if you like fairy tales, high fantasy, and adult characters slowly but surely figuring out who they are.

A friend of mine compared this book to the pilot of a tv show in that it is misleading in terms of what the series it involves has to offer. I’m hopeful that she’s right. Because of this and really wanting to see what happens to Talia and Snow (and their relationship with one another), I will be reading the second book. If a lot more happens in the next book, and if Danielle begins to grow on me, that would be awesome.

If you’ve read Stepsister Scheme, did you like it? How are the other books in the series?

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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3 Responses to Review: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

  1. Noel R. says:

    Aww, I’m sad you didn’t like it as well! But I have a feeling that I might’ve viewed Danielle the same way. Mostly I don’t like female characters with husbands as a rule (does that say something about me?), so I fear a similar reaction. But I’m glad you’re reading the next one, and you can let us know if your friend was right! It’s totally okay when a sequel is better than the first volume. =D

    • Aw. I get what you mean though. She was married before the book began and having very little to go on in terms of her emotional connection to Armand just made it harder for me to connect to her at all. I’m definitely hoping the series improves and it doesn’t take me as long to get to the second or third book.

  2. Pingback: Reader’s Progress #6 | CSI: Librarian

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