The Cracked Slipper
I wasn’t expecting to, but I finished The Cracked Slipper in a single day. This fantastical novel, which begins where the Cinderella fairytale ends, can best be described as a child created from the works of Angela Carter and Anne McCaffery. Because I like both of the above authors, I really enjoyed this book.
I thought the author did a nice job of expanding the Cinderella fairytale to the completely magical realm of Cartheigh, which includes dragons, unicorns, and talking birds. The fairytale is also expanded in terms of the complexity of the characters. Eleanor, the Cinderella character of the story quickly realizes that she has married a very flawed prince in a very flawed kingdom. People act politely while plotting her demise. Luckily, she has her loyal teacher and professional witch, Rosemary, her talking bird, Chou, and her devoted lady attendants, which is good because her evil stepmother and stepsister continue to cause her grief, and the royal court’s magician doesn’t like her very much.
There is also the matter of Eleanor’s attraction to one of her husband’s most trusted advisors: Dorian Finely. This plotline is particularly aching because it’s clear from the beginning that this magical society doesn’t tolerate married women having affairs while turning a blind eye to men’s. The romantic tension between Eleanor and Dorian rises throughout the book, but the characters and the reader know that any relationship between the two of them cannot end happily.
/The Cracked Slipper is the first of a trilogy and resolving that story arch will be among the author’s biggest challenges. Alexander has skillfully set up a strong chemistry and an unforgiving society. Whether the romance will satisfy believability and readers’ desire remains to be seen. I appreciated the well-developed, complex, and strong female characters in this novel. Many of them are given difficult situations and make the best of it through a combination of strategy, strong friendships, and sheer determination. Even the more villainous characters, both male and female, are given the opportunity to be seen in a different light.
This novel is dense—every chapter is packed with history of the magical realm, neighboring countries, the building conflict between witches and magicians, and royal court maneuvering and politics. It’s part of what makes the story so fast-paced and believable. But I think the author could have given less detail and the story would have been just as interesting. However, because this book is part of a trilogy, maybe this detail was a set up for a story yet to come.
|Page Count||412 pages|
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|Category||Science Fiction & Fantasy|