What if Cinderella had a lot to learn about being kind, no particular interest in a royal ball, and no fairy godmother? Enter the world of Trystan Embrie Colbourne. Once the admittedly spoiled daughter of a wealthy nobleman, she now lives in physical comfort but under the spiteful rule of her resentful stepmother. Her primary joy is the freedom of secret horseback rides while her family sleeps. It’s on one such ride that she crosses paths with a young man who becomes what she might dare to call a friend.
This book made it onto my 2018 reading list by the recommendation of an Instagram friend. It’s my favorite fairy tale retelling I’ve read since discovering Beauty, by Robin McKinley several years ago.
There’s no magic in this Cinderella story. Political intrigue takes the place of the fairy godmother, instead of being a paradigm of gentle kindness the heroine has much to learn, and the Prince has much more at stake than finding a bride.
There was not any objectionable subject matter in this story–no language, one kiss to celebrate the long-awaited confession of love, and no overly descriptive violence. Throughout the story, Trystan comes to recognize her tendency to focus on her own problems and overlook the love and value of those around her. She makes many mistakes but is willing to learn. Prince Ramsey feels the burden of his kingdom heavily but refuses to shy away from responsibility. Both are believably flawed and admirable in their positive growth.
I recommend this story to lovers of fairy tales and historical fantasy.
What’s your favorite retelling?