Never After: The Stolen Slippers

Roaring Brook. (Chronicles of Never After: Bk. 2). Feb. 2022. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250311238.
Gr 3-7–Four companions introduced in Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy continue their adventures in skewed versions of well-known fairy tales. Traditional stories are all wrong, it turns out. Filomena Jefferson-Cho, a fairy-tale aficionado from North Pasadena, has joined with Jack, Alistair, and Gretel to find the truth, starting with the revelation that Cinderella is a mean, arrogant, and vicious stepsister of the good twins Hortense and Beatrice, who just want their glass slippers back. The shoes belong to Hortense, who is in love with Prince Charlemagne, and a ball to announce his engagement is imminent. But first there are ogres to fight, seductive candy houses to escape from, and a Beast to appease. The wit depends mostly on puns and the incongruous mixture of present-day vernacular with the world of Never After. Despite real moments of danger, the lighthearted atmosphere and elements of magic reassure readers that these four will survive and conquer all obstacles in their way. The underlying theme is to question everything and to look at Never After with fresh eyes to discern the truth. Filomena’s goal of retelling the tales informs her efforts, as does her identity as the niece of the 13th fairy and possibly Sleeping Beauty. Uncovering the mistaken identities, lies, and misdirection of the well-known version of the tales gives these titles popular appeal.
VERDICT Though lacking the intensity of Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm and its sequels, this could satisfy the fractured fairy tale itch for many.

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