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Jennifer Donnelly is the author of historical fiction including Printz honoree A Northern Light, and fantasy novels that travel under the sea, into the Beast’s magical library, and now into the small country village of Stepsister. Her latest follows Cinderella’s so-called ugly stepsister, whose life becomes a battlefield between Fate and Chance: one of whom wants her to march quietly to her predetermined end, the other determined to help her defy it. We talked to Donnelly about fractured fairy tales, her life as a storyteller, and weird historical research.
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 cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe…which is now filling with blood.
Isabelle tried to fit in. She cut away pieces of herself in order to become pretty. Sweet. More like Cinderella. But that only made her mean, jealous, and hollow. Now she has a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
Evoking the darker, original version of the Cinderella story, Stepsister shows us that ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and uses Jennifer Donnelly’s trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption . . . and a new definition of beauty.