All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella's Stepmother

384p. HarperCollins/Morrow. May 2018. Tr $26.99. ISBN 9780062798206.
Teller's debut novel is a more realistic addition to the ever-growing genre of fairy-tale retellings. It's told from the point of view of Cinderella's stepmother, Agnes, beginning with her childhood. There is nothing romantic about this adaptation; Agnes's life is full of turmoil as she bounces around fulfilling different servant roles. Though she is granted a reprieve from servitude after the birth of her children, she quickly finds herself back in service as a wet nurse for Ella, who will eventually become her stepdaughter, Cinderella. There is much more warmth between Ella and Agnes than in the usual retellings. However, Agnes is still harsh; she despises Ella and lashes out at her because she feels that Ella is ungrateful. Ultimately, Agnes understands that she has projected much of cruelty she has endured onto Ella. The narrative makes up for its lack of magical whimsy by exploring the complexities of relationships.
VERDICT A solid addition to any collection where fractured fairy tales are popular, but not an essential purchase.
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