Ash & Bramble

464p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062337948.
Gr 8 Up—Pin wakes up knowing nothing about her past. She is told she is a Seamstress, one of many slaves forced to work for the fearsome Godmother. With the help of a mysterious thimble she has somehow saved from Before, headstrong Pin and a frightened but caring Shoemaker escape the prison fortress. But Pin is captured, and her memory is again wiped away by the Godmother. She awakes as an abused stepdaughter who is fated to wear glass slippers and meet a charming prince at a ball. Meanwhile, Shoe is saved by rebels and plots to rescue Pin. When Prince Cor realizes that he has also been used, he joins Pin, Shoe, and the rebels in their efforts to thwart the Godmother's power. But can they ever escape the inevitable ending that Story has planned for them? Narrated in the first person alternately by Pin and Shoe, the book begins with a sense of foreboding and steadily builds suspense as the characters piece together the truth about how the Godmother manipulates people and events. Prineas skillfully brings her characters to life and creates a believable premise for this unconventional "Cinderella" story, even managing to sneak in references to other fairy tales. There is plenty of action mixed with romance, as Shoe and Cor compete for Pin's affections. The wicked Godmother concept works perfectly, and it is a revelation when Pin discovers the reason for the witch's actions in the original stories.
VERDICT A first purchase for fans of Marissa Meyer's "Lunar Chronicles" (Feiwel & Friends) and Robin McKinley's retold fairy tales.

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