Charm by Sarah Pinborough

March 26, 2015 Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Charm by Sarah PinboroughCharm (Tales from the Kingdoms #2) by Sarah Pinborough
Published: July 18th 2013 by Gollancz
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
Genres: Fairytale Retelling
Source: Purchased
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4.5 Stars

It's Cinderella, but not as you know her ...

Imagine an enchanted footman, two ugly sisters, a magical ball, and a romance to remember ...

... and now read the true story of Cinderlla, told the way it always should have been.

Brilliantly reimagined and haunting, Charm is a dark and sexy retelling of the Cinderella fairytale with an incredible twist.

Cinderella’s father remarried after her mother’s death, but she hates her stepmother and her two step-sisters. She does all the chores in the house so she doesn’t have to interact with them, and has made friends with Buttons, who steals coal and food from the royal castle and brings them to her. Cinderella loves everything about the castle and dreams of one day living there as the royal princess, married to the dashing prince.

Cinderella is obsessed with changing her life to live in the palace, and is blind to everything that’s going on around her. Her step-mother lost her place in high society when she ran away to Cinderella’s widowed father, and is desperate to win back her status by marrying one of her two daughters to a nobleman. When the summons to the Bridal Ball comes to their home, Cinderella’s step mother becomes obsessed with making sure that Rose catches the attention of the prince and Cinderella, as usual, is forgotten.

Cinderella is naïve and has no real idea of how the wider world works. She’s lived for so long wrapped up in her fantasy that she fails to realise what a toxic situation she’s gotten herself in until it’s much too late. Keeping her company in this story is the huntsman, the enchanted footman who has been sent with Cinderella to keep an eye on her and make sure she keeps up her end of the bargain she made with the “fairy godmother”. The huntsman, who was my favourite character in Poison, is again one of the best characters in the book.

This is a story that centres around obsession. The narrative moves on, with the introduction of the fairy godmother and Cinderella’s adventures at the ball, and the family’s secrets start unravelling. As the magic of the fairy godmother wears off, the prince becomes less and less enamoured of the stranger he’s promised to marry, and Cinderella starts to realise that court life isn’t all she thought it would be. To top it all off, the prince is hiding a secret.

Sarah Pinborough’s writing is again superb. I was impressed by how vividly she described the world she’d created, how skilfully she conveyed the dark and magical atmosphere, how nuanced her characters are.

Charm is a brilliant retelling of Cinderella that takes the well known tale to a whole new level. I am thoroughly enjoying this series and can’t wait to see where the next instalment, Beauty, takes us.

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