Review: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Stepsister by Jennifer DonnellyStepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Scholastic on May 14, 2019
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

A startling, fiercely feminist re-imagining of Cinderella from the bestselling, award-winning author Jennifer Donnelly.

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe ... which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Evoking the darker, older versions of the Cinderella story, bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly shows us that ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and uses her trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption, and a new definition of beauty.

A message from Meredith: Hey everyone! Today, I have Lissa here with a guest review for Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly!

You can find Lissa on Instagram!

Without further adieu, here’s Lissa’s review! Enjoy!


I used to say that I was sad that Gregory Maguire was the one who came up with the idea for Wicked, and the other, “other side of the story” books he has written. Because while I adore the concept (and the fabulous Broadway musical) his writing style doesn’t do much for me.

Thankfully his monopoly on the concept seems to be at an end. I loved Sea Witch by Sara Henning. And now Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly.

I am going to throw in a few pros/cons here.

Characters – I adored all the charactets. They were well developed and well written and likable.

Horses – I will always be the 11 year old who picked up her first Mercedes Lackey book because of the pretty white horse on the cover. Horses were my fantasy gateway drug, and I will always swoon when they are well written and treated as the characters they are, and not just transportation.

The Message – I am all for the message in this story. Beauty is not what you look like, but what you do and what makes you passionate. And I really enjoyed the MC’s beauty. However…

The Message – This book was hit a bit too hard with the message stick. Not all the time, and not enough to ruin it for me, but it was definitely overkill. A little subtlety would have gone a lot further with me.

Overall I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.


3 thoughts on “Review: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

  1. I agree with you that the message was a bit heavy handed. I really wanted to like it, but that part kind of reduced my enjoyment.

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