Gollancz (UK), Titan Books (US) out now
Cinderella – you will go to the ball. And don’t worry about the consequences. Too much.
Sarah Pinborough’s adult updating of fairy tales continues with her take on Cinderella, giving it the same realistic consideration that she gave to Snow White in Poison. You don’t need to have read that to make sense of Charm – the books in the trilogy are stand alone – but you’ll certainly get more from the book when you click the connections between the characters. Pinborough shows us a Cinderella who is warned to be careful what she wishes for, but goes ahead anyway; any resemblance to local royal families and the way their treat their virginal brides to be is probably purely coincidental!
There’s some black humour in here – particularly with regard to the slipper – and it seems as if the sexual content is more restrained than in Poison (it’s still there though; maybe I just expected it this time!). Realities of court life are superimposed on the fairy tale world (to the extent that one character actually points out that life isn’t a fairy tale), and you won’t be able to look at the Disney version of this story again without thinking about the put downs that come the Prince’s way about his method of choosing his bride.
The illustrations once again give the volume a wonderful sense of style, counterpointing the more cynical text with an air of grace. Short and (bitter)sweet this is a strong second entry in the series.
Verdict: This ongoing reworking of fairy tales continues to surprise and please (and still occasionally shock). 8/10