We all know the tale of Cinderella: A beautiful waif of a girl is forced to clean and cook for her family, but finds herself a member of the royal family after a fairy godmother grants her just the right outfit and shoes. But what if Cinderella was a bit more selfish? In Sarah Pinborough’s book Charm: A Wicked Cinderella Tale, our heroine is way more open with her sexuality and about a serious misunderstanding of her family. When a Bride Ball is announced for the local prince, Cinderella realizes she will be made to stay home. While she takes this as a slight, it is really because the family can only afford to prepare one daughter for court. Her sister, Rose, spends all her days and nights training for a role in court under her mother’s tutelage. Cinderella’s father is an unemployed writer who is too busy lost in his own world and has very little time for his daughter. Cinderella spends her time with a local thief who brings coal to the family. Rose goes to the ball while Cinderella sulks at home. She is met by a witch who offers to give Cinderella the life she wants, but with a price. Cinderella must explore all the rooms of the Prince’s palace to find what the witch is looking for, and report back to her henchman, The Huntsman. After a successful ball and eventually being discovered, Cinderella soon learns being a princess is not all that she thought it would be and that the Prince is a much darker individual than she previously thought.
Charm: A Wicked Cinderella Tale keeps a step mother that is bad with money, one step sister and rescues Cinderella’s father from certain death. Oh, and Cinderella’s mother wasn’t a beautiful and tragic dead figure. Her step sister, Rose, is far from wicked. More than once Rose proves to be a self-sacrificing and loving girl who gets the short end of the stick for not being as beautiful as Cinderella. To really understand this book, one must have read Poison: A Wicked Snow White Tale. I promise you know that if you have not read the first book in the series you will miss a great deal. For example, the disappearances of small children in the woods is tied directly into the family line of our fairy godmother witch figure. The Prince develops his secrets in the previous book and the Huntsman is no surprise if you’re clued in. If you launch directly into Charm, you may be able to follow the story without a problem but you will definitely be missing out on the full experience.
My warning is that this book is probably not a good book for your pre-teen. The book is highly sexual and the characters are definitely comfortable with their sexuality and explorations.