“Before Midnight: A Retelling of ‘Cinderella'” by Cameron Dokey
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Re-telling
Summary from Goodreads:
Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted. His wife has died in childbirth, leaving him alone with an infant daughter he cannot bear to name. But before he abandons her for king and court, he brings a second child to be raised alongside her, a boy whose identity he does not reveal.
The girl, La Cendrillon, and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants’ care until one day a very fine lady arrives with her two daughters. The lady has married La Cendrillon’s father, and her arrival changes their lives.
When an invitation to a great ball reaches the family, La Cendrillon’s new stepmother will make a decision with far-reaching effects. Her choice will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul toward their destiny — a choice that will challenge their understanding of family, test their loyalty and courage, and, ultimately, teach them who they are.
Much like Golden, Before Midnight turns the fairy tale it’s based on on its side. I’m not super familiar with Cinderella but I know it well enough to know the basic story. Cinderella’s mother dies, her father remarries a horrid women who works Cinderella like a dog, there’s a ball where the Prince falls for Cinderella, and they live happily ever after. All of that is here but not in the way you would think.
Cendrillon (our Cinderella) is blamed for her mother’s death by her father and as a result they aren’t very close. As a result she’s not quite what you think of when you think of a noble’s daughter. She’s very down to Earth and knows that she needs to pitch in around the house. She’s a young woman when word arrives that her father has remarried and is sending his new wife and stepdaughters to his house. He doesn’t tell them that he has a daughter so they all assume that Cendrillon is one of the staff. She goes with it. Her stepmother and sisters treat her poorly because she’s regarded as staff. (There’s your check for the evil stepmother). I was really happy to see things turn around when Cendrillon reveals who she is. And it was a REAL turn around. Not one where they stepmother played nicely until she could set off her evil plan. The ball does come around and Cendrillon is invited because of her family’s rank. The prince does fall for her but not because of her looks.
There was a lot of other good stuff going on in the story that wasn’t related to the fairy tale. Raoul and his storyline were pretty interesting. The struggles with Cendrillon and her sisters added an extra layer to the story. Even the political angle of the King and Queen was a cool twist (even though I didn’t totally understand it all).
The bottom line? Interesting twist on Cinderella.