Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Cracked Slipper

by Stephanie Alexander

Relase Date: March 9th 2012

When Eleanor Brice unexpectedly wins the heart of Gregory Desmarais, Crown Prince of Cartheigh, she's sure she's found her happily-ever-after. Unfortunately, Prince Charming has a loose grip on his temper, a looser grip on his marriage vows, and a tight grip on the bottle.

Eight years of mistreatment, isolation and clandestine book learning hardly prepare Eleanor for life at Eclatant Palace, where women are seen, not heard. According to Eleanor’s eavesdropping parrot, no one at court appreciates her unladylike tendency to voice her opinion. To make matter worse, her royal fiancĂ© spends his last night of bachelorhood on a drunken whoring spree. Before the ink dries on her marriage proclamation Eleanor realizes that she loves her husband's best friend, former soldier Dorian Finley.

Eleanor can’t resist Dorian’s honesty, or his unusual admiration for her intelligence, and soon both are caught in a dangerous obsession. She drowns her confusion in charitable endeavors, but the people’s love can’t protect her from her feelings. When a magical crime endangers the bond between unicorns, dragons, and the royal family, a falsely accused Eleanor must clear her own name to save her life. The road toward vindication will force a choice between hard-won security and an impossible love.

The Cracked Slipper is a book club friendly fairytale retelling in the vein of Gregory Maguire, with a dash of romance. Set in a pseudo-renaissance, corset-and-petticoats enchanted kingdom, The Cracked Slipper brings a magical twist to women’s fiction.

Rating: 2 Stars

The Cracked Slipper made me think for a long while after reading it.Sadly not in the kind of way the author had intended.

When I read a book ideally the plot, the characters and the setting/world building are good, but most importantly the prose has to be great. I always insisted that if i don't like the style of writing I can't read a book no matter how good the plot, if the prose is great I will still enjoy the book even if the storyline isn't that great. Well, I discovered that even if I do like the prose of a book, if the plot lacks, I really don't enjoy reading it either.
Alexander is a skilled writer, her style of writing is really great. But the storyline was lacking for me. I found lots was picked up and left unfinished and it sort of just ended. I get somehow the idea behind the book. I just didn't think it went anywhere. When I finished I thought, and what was the point of that?

Half the time it felt like being in medieval high school. The other half I kept wondering what point Alexander is trying to make. Was there a message behind this? There were tinges of feminist empowerment, the whole love triangle and the intrigues all ended up feeling a bit discombobulated.

The characters were inconsistent to me while some were great like Eleanor, written with deep insight and subtlety, others were simple stereotypes like Gregory.
The world building was quite good. Except that the talking animals somehow were unnecessary and ended up being too much, bordering on weird.

To be honest I kept on wondering if I like the original fairytale to much to appreciate this book. I like the traditional fairy tales and was brought up on the proper Grimm stories. Another thing I pondered over after reading this. It is possible that this is the case. I concede that the first couple of chapters I might have been a bit biased by that. But I kept reading due to two reasons as mentioned previously Alexander writes beautifully and I wanted to see where she will take this. And then the book ended. I was left wondering.

I can see that this could have been meant as a critic to the HAE but somehow that wasn't explored. And if that was the case, why set it in the whimsical setting? Why the intrigue? Why ad women's rights issues into it? Then there is the love triangle, which was left unfinished just was kinda not here nor there.

I really wanted to like this book, again I think Alexander is a great writer, but in my opinion it fell short on execution in the end. I wonder if maybe Alexander simply tried to do too much ?

ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!

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