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A Review of: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Blogger’s Note/Update:

I apologize for the extended break I took from this blog. In addition to starting a temporary job, I was sick four times in the span of five weeks. All this meant that I didn’t have the energy, time or motivation to read a lot. As tomorrow I am starting a brand new job and I have been focusing on my own unpublished novel, I can’t promise that posts will be regular as this blog is just a hobby for me. However, I am back in the book blogging game and will do my best to get back to posting!

Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy/Fairytale Retelling


The novel follows Isabelle, who is one of the ugly stepsister of Ella (Cinderella). Isabelle defies what women from her time are told to be. Instead of dreaming of marrying a prince, she wants to be fierce and independent. Throughout the course of the novel two figures (Fate and Chance) compete for control over her life while the fairy queen Tanaquill agrees to grant her a wish if she can piece back together her broken heart. At times the novel’s plot became a little too convoluted.

Narrative Style:

The novel reads much like a traditional fairytale in that it is dark and often at the ends of the chapters the author will offer a life lesson for the reader to ponder. The novel is told primarily through the third person perspective of Isabelle, though Fate, Chance, and Tanaquill are also third person narrators.


Isabelle is, from the very beginning, brave, but as the novel progresses and she slowly reclaims the pieces of her heart she learns to also be selfless and compassionate. Most of the other characters are relegated to side character positions. There is Octavia ‘Tavi’, the other ugly stepsister, Felix, Isabelle’s love, and Hugo, a neighbor they stay with for a time, among others.

Fate and Chance are both sort of antagonists, and though Fate comes across as being more so on Isabelle’s side, he still has his own selfish motivations. Tanaquill, meanwhile, acts as a neutral party in the two’s competition.


The novel is set in France though there are magical elements such as the fairy queen and Fate and Chance. In this world, every person has a map that shows their lives from start to finish. These maps are made by the Fates.


The novel is 342 pages. For the most part it was well paced. However, the climax and ending felt far too rushed for the amount of build up they were given.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

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