cover image The Stepsister’s Tale

The Stepsister’s Tale

Tracy Barrett. Harlequin Teen, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-373-21121-0

Having reimagined Greek classics in novels like King of Ithaka and Dark of the Moon, Barrett offers a provocative inversion of the tale of Cinderella. Halsey Hall—the once-magnificent home of Lady Margaret Mountjoy and daughters Jane, 15, and Maude, 13—has been falling apart since the girls’ father squandered the family’s money and drank himself to death. With their mother in denial, Jane and Maude have been handling numerous household responsibilities like chopping firewood and tending to animals, making them tan and strong, but not proper ladies to present to society. When Lady Margaret suddenly remarries and presents her daughters with an entitled and haughty new sister, 13-year-old Isabella, conflict is inevitable. Barrett cleverly upends traditional notions of happily ever after—rather than Cinderella’s usual trajectory of rising from the ashes to marry a prince, for Jane, Maude, and their family, salvation comes through hard work, realizing the futility of clinging to a long-dead illusion of nobility, and embracing a “lowered” station in life that truly allows them to live. Ages 14–up. Agent: Lara Perkins, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (July)