cover image The Cracked Slipper

The Cracked Slipper

Stephanie Alexander. Bublish, $14.99 trade paper (412p) ISBN 978-1-64704-021-5

Alexander’s alluring debut and series launch reimagines Cinderella’s happily ever after as a tense, unhappy marriage while laying plenty of ground for installments to come. At the Second Sunday ball, Eleanor Brice attracts the attention of Prince Gregory Desmarais, much to the annoyance of her conniving, abusive stepmother, Imogene. Here ends the fairy tale readers will recognize, as opinionated Eleanor struggles to fit in at the palace during her whirlwind wedding preparations with help from her gossipy parrot Chou Chou and her handmaidens. Her marriage grows more complicated than her engagement as Gregory’s temper flares and Eleanor learns he frequents brothels. Eleanor navigates politics—including a push to strip her beloved healing witches of their access to education—and her stepmother’s ongoing schemes while dealing with her husband’s inconsistent moods. Through it all, she relies on Gregory’s best friend, soldier Dorian Finley, for support. Alexander writes sensitively about reality falling short of dreams while leaving open enough questions regarding Imogene’s machinations and Dorian and Eleanor’s mutual attraction to propel a sequel. Alexander does a solid job of taking a fairy tale and remixing it with feminist themes and dark edges. (Self-published)