I Read 3 Cinderella Retellings, Here Are My Thoughts (ft. a lot of gushing and retelling appreciation)

Hey everyone!

From one to Gansey’s obsession with Glendower, how much do you like fairytales and retellings?

Throw both of these in a book pitch and you’ve got my money.

Of course, not all fairytales are great. Actually, I’m against telling traditional occidental fairytales to children these days.

Honestly, they don’t have much to them. What do they teach? “Sit patiently, girl, do what you’re told to do and live in misery until someone comes to change your life.” “Be brave boy, don’t cry and be perfect and strong and save the day.” Nah, thanks.

I guess most of us are familiar with the meme that goes: “Me, behave? As a child, I was told about Cinderella arriving home after midnight, Sleeping Beauty sleeping the whole day, Snow White living in a house with seven men, etc.”

I prefer this one:

disney the little mermaid ariel cinderella Sleeping Beauty ...

But then come retelling authors to save the day (or most of it).

With retellings, writers can make fairytales modern and more just. Diversity? Representation? Feminism? LGBTQIA+? Three-dimensional characters? Sensible redemption arcs? Discussion of societal issues? We can have all of that and princesses. And kings. And magic. And happy endings. And more.

Those are worth teaching kids.

Of all the fairytales, Cinderella is perhaps one of my least liked ones. How in the world does someone fall head over heels for a girl but the only way he has to recognize her is to make her try on a SHOE? And don’t get me started on how stupid it is to feed stories about mean step-mothers to children these days, when 1 in 3 families I know are recomposed, HAPPY ones…

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Today, I want to share with you three alternative Cinderella stories adapted to modern values and issues. Enjoy!

They’re in chronological order in which I read them (which also happens to be rating order, what?!)

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) ~ Marissa Meyer

🠺 My review 🠸

Rating: ★★★★★

Reveal SynopsisThe first book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer! See where the futuristic YA fairytale saga all began, with the tale of a teenage cyborg who must fight for Earth’s survival against villains from outer space.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

With high-stakes action and a smart, resourceful heroine, Cinder is a Cinderella retelling that is at once classic and strikingly original.

My impression of the book in a few sentences: Talking about pace, I think Cinder is the best book in the series; it flew so fast. The Sci-Fi world is catching and the intergalactic politics is a plus. The characters were (those who were meant to be) likeable and I really loved the main ones.

Vibe-wise, I’d compare it to: I really don’t know? It felt so fresh and unique when I read it.

I had slight (slight, very slight) impressions of The Treasure Planet, but it’s because a) the space travel, b) the whole androids and cyborgs stuff (I imagined Iko as a crossover between B.E.N, Wall-e, and BB8), and c) I had hoped Cinder would have a steampunk setting.

Later in the series, the squad kiiinda feels like a cool teen version of the Scooby-Doo Gang.

Nicely adapted elements of the original tale:

  • Cinder being an outcast because she’s a cyborg is a brilliant creative spin.
  • Iko, Cinder’s little android-help, could be the “robotification” of the animals who helped Cinderella.
  • Is this a really twisted thought, or did you also feel like the doctor played bits of the fairy-godmother part? (Even though Cinder is her own fairy godmother, to be honest.)
  • There is a ball, a discarded dress that belonged to someone Cinder really loved, a pumpkin-colored car… The “slipper”.
  • The freaking “slipper”, guys. That was so witty, Marissa. (If you were as blown away as me when you read that part, PLEASE leave a comment about it. Let’s fantalk about it together.)

Great retelling-sponsored modifications:

  • The main character isn’t waiting around for her problems to be fixed. She acts up, because she’s an iconic badass, and that’s inspiring.
  • There is some sister love between Cinder and one of her stepsisters. Thank you for that, Marissa Meyer.
  • Cinder is the one trying to save, not the one who’s saved.
  • She’s also a darn good mechanic. The best in the whole capital. She’s capable. That’s empowering.

Stepsister ~ Jennifer Donnelly

🠺 My review 🠸

Rating: ★★★★☆

Reveal Synopsis 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.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

My impression of the book in a few sentences: There isn’t enough buzz around this book. It is so empowering and magical that I can’t wrap my mind around it. It wasn’t exactly what I had expected, but in a certain sense it was better.

Vibe-wise, I’d compare it to: A lot of cool things. The story had some elements of magic that reminded me of Caraval, a bit of The Night Circus whimsy, an Alice in Wonderland style, and definitely some Mulan dynamics. Yes, as amazing as it sounds.

Nicely adapted elements of the original tale: (Let’s keep in mind that this was technically a sequel to Cinderella, so the original tale was not adapted as much as it was slightly tweaked.)

  • The “fairy godmother”. She had a totally different purpose than in the original tale, a more mature and “realistic” one.
  • The French setting? Honestly, how many of us remembered or knew that Cinderella was set in France?
  • Little animals helping. That was just to cute and one more message about being “kind” and “deserving”.

Great retelling-sponsored modifications:

  • The stepsisters have valid reasons. . They have a backstory. They are three-dimensional and we get to really know them through the book. We see the story from both sides.
  • The incorporation of Chance and Fate and the demonstration that a girl can shape her own path.
  • The concepts of “beautiful”, “kind”, “mean”, and “ugly” being slowly redefined through the story.
  • The totally feminist focus. That’s empowering.

Cinderella is Dead ~ Kalynnn Bayron

🠺 My review 🠸

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Reveal SynopsisIt’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

My impression of this book in a few sentences: The premise is honestly AWESOME and Kalynn Bayron’s idea of building a world around Cinderella was so creative. Unfortunately, I had some trouble connecting with the story and feeling the characters and the book wasn’t what I thought it would be. But still, some parts, mostly the first chapters, were great.

Vibe-wise, I’d compare it to: Girls of Paper and Fire, because of the core premise (young girls being handed to men as properties + the main character being lesbian + the love interest being an empowered warrior with a family history that matters to the plot).

You Should See Me in a Crown, because the ship and main love interests are similar (let’s be honest, this is a fairytale AU featuring a fire!Lizzie and Mack).

Finally, An Enchantment of Ravens (mostly for the woods) and Heartless (for the village) when it comes to the worldbuilding (all three books have a kind of under-developped fantasy world/setting).

Nicely adapted elements of the original tale: (Just like with Stepsister, this is more a sequel than an actual retelling.)

  • The fact that the Cinderella story is actually at the core of the Mersailles society is cool and creative (I really loved the premise of this book, can you tell).
  • Consequently, it makes sense that girls wanted to do everything like Cinderella (dresses were fashioned like hers and “palace-approved” glass slipper replicas were displayed in shops).
  • The midnight charm!! The dress and carriage, but they’re a contrast to the original tale’s.

Great retelling-sponsored modifications:

  • A black queer teen plans to dismantle the patriarchy with her kickass equally-queer love interest?. I mean… Is there a better way to illustrate how awesome retellings can get?
  • Oooh, the dark spin… Don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say anything, but there is a twist that makes us see the original fairytale under a new light.
  • Cinderella’s reimagined family story. Yes, thank you. We love when characters aren’t unfairly evil.

Have you read these Cinderella retellings? What other ones have you read? What do you like about retellings?

8 thoughts on “I Read 3 Cinderella Retellings, Here Are My Thoughts (ft. a lot of gushing and retelling appreciation)

  1. I’ve seen some people hating on Cinder for the Asian culture in it but honestly I don’t think it was bad. However I loved the story itself and I really think it was fresh and new compared to a lot that had been published.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What? Wait, from what I get that would make no sense. Are people really bothered that a book isn’t set in the Western World?? Unless I got your comment wrong and the comments are about how the Asian rep isn’t accurate.
      Edit: Thank you for your comment!! I didn’t know that the book was considered problematic by how it portrays Chinese culture.


      1. Right!! Well I guess I can’t say a whole lot since I’m white however, I think a lot of the comments are saying she culture appropriated since she’s also white. And that it also seemed to be a generalization of Asia although I remember thinking it was supposed to be China for some reason. So if there is any culture inaccuracies mentioned by Asian people, I wouldn’t blame them for bringing that up. I don’t think anyone has anything bad to say about the story itself though!
        You’re welcome! I was the same way till I saw people complaining about it on Goodreads and Twitter.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read Cinder and Cinderella is Dead and liked both!
    Cinder is hands down the most creative Cinderella retelling I’ve ever read. I mean princess and robots, can it be any cooler? Plus the subtle nods to the original tale without every next move being glaringly obvious made for such a great read. the glass slipper tho—
    The premise for Cinderella is Dead intrigued me. A queer feminist twist on Cinderella, um sign me up! I loved the darker elements and the themes in that book so much!
    In summary: I REALLY love retellings haha. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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