Title: Soot and Slipper
Publisher: Eulalia Skye Press
Author: Kate Stradling
Price: $7.99 / 0.99
Eugenie loves her stepmother and stepsisters. They are each others’ only family after a series of tragic losses, so she does what she can to support them until she reaches her majority and can finally claim her inheritance. That means working herself nearly to exhaustion to create beautiful dresses for them to wear to the Royal Masquerade. When her fairy godmother unexpectedly offers Eugenie a chance to attend the ball herself, she is immediately suspicious. Fairies, after all, are tricky creatures and not to be trusted. But what harm could there be in attending a single ball where no one will recognize her? Not even Pip, the young man in a domino mask who captures Eugenie’s attention and has her wishing for another ball, and a life away from her stepmother and stepsisters ….
I discovered Kate Stradling’s work through a FaceBook group dedicated to cozy fantasy and fairy tales. And, oh am I glad that I did. Soot and Slipper is, without doubt, one of my favorite retellings ever. Eugenie is a terrific protagonist: loyal, brave, naive but not foolish, always hoping for the best in situations and people. While Pip’s identity is patently obvious to anyone familiar with the original fairy tale, I loved the slow revelation of his background and his true connection to Eugenie. The fairy godmother is a mysterious being: her motivations are not entirely clear and one must take care to pay close attention to the rules surrounding her magical gifts. The twists kept me guessing, and I was seriously teary-eyed by the end of this tale.
Soot and Slipper is a terrific addition to the corpus of Cinderella retellings. Highly recommended to fans of Robin McKinley, Theodora Goss, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Stephanie Burgis.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]