An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.
The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.
Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.
So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.
But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.
I think a part of my reading experience was ruined by Robert Carlyle’s portrayal of Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon Time. While the writing of the show has gone down the tubes a la Charmed by having black and white morality on the show Carlyle can still make his now demonized character seem complex. And to be fair, the writing in the first two seasons and half made the character complex before they decided to give everyone on the show 1D morality . I think it’s why I expected more from the Rumpelstiltskin character than I got. To be fair, the book description made it seem more interesting to than it really was.
Which was really more or less a Rumpelstiltskin retelling where we get a bland peasant helping a princess who likes to eat pie.
We’re reminded that Ari likes to eat pie every other page of the book which is why I even bring that up.
It’s really annoying since I just read about another pie loving princess a few months ago in Heartless.
To be fair though, I give props to Redwine for having a full figured MC it’s just that it annoyed me how we reminded of the fact she wasn’t the size of a twig every other page. In fact, the villain states she’s fat at one point of the book and I just…I don’t know, I just wish that there wasn’t so much emphasis on her size. Though, on a positive note Ari seems comfortable with her body so the fact that everyone is talking about the size of her butt isn’t really bothering her.
Then again, she has her mind on a lot of other things. So there’s really no time to focus on hateful vitriol.
When I first started reading this book, I thought it was eerily similar to Shadow Queen in its set up. Two kids on the run from their stepmother, but then it changes. The thing is like Shadow Queen it never reaches its fullest potential and never veered far enough from the source material to make it original.
The Rumpelstiltskin character, for instance, was as evil as they come. About three quarters of the way through the novel, after he has done despicable after despicable thing Redwine tries to give him some backstory to humanize him BUT it doesn’t really work. Maybe it would’ve been if it was a TV show (maybe). But as it was, there just seemed no evolution for this character or his motives.
The reason the Rumple character works on Once Upon a Time in the early seasons is that they had spent time developing him throughout the series. Here, the Rumpelstiltskin character is pretty much the stereotypical evil character. Much like everyone else in this book is stereotyped to their specific role.
Aria besides liking pie is the princess who gets things done.
Sebastian is the handsome noble peasant with a sad backstory that helped her.
Thad is the douche brother who gets them in the bad situation from the get go, because his name is Thad and he’s an idiot.
Most of the world building here is loosely done. Sure, there’s some stuff about fae but nothing out of the ordinary or interesting enough to keep you really that engaged. And some of the stuff, about how the magic worked (specifically with the souls) was never really fully explained. Like, can anyone remove someone soul? Becuase it only seemed like a fae thing at first and then…
Yeah, complication not explained. Just like the whole servant’s backstory. The stupid brother who still gets to be king even though his sister and her peasant hero boyfriend save the day.
It’s just a little ridiculous.
I think if you can look past the faults, this one is okay. Great no, but okay. Harmless would probably be the perfect word to describe it. I mean, I don’t think it’s one I’m really going to remember one way or the other.
Overall Rating: C+