I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).
However, I took a few detours along the way to becoming a full-time writer. After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother's importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. I then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I am going to be a published novelist. I am very excited about this!
I currently (as of the time of my writing this) have four published YA fantasy novels: Mistwood, Nightspell, Death Sworn, and Death Marked. I live in the DC area with my husband Aaron, and our children.
There have been a lot of fairy tale retellings over the years, but there always seems to be a new way to tell an old tale, and this one does a great job at making everything fresh and exciting. It does that partly by adding real human emotions to the story: jealousy, envy, revenge. But it also does it by introducing a new character into the mix, one that wasn’t mentioned in the original story, as the point-of-view enabling the reader to see each of these older characters in a new way. Very well done.
Leah Cypess's "Stepsister" is a retelling of Cinderella told from the POV of Prince Charming's brother—which, to me, is an insta-sell already. Loved every bit of it, the MC, the tight POV, the introspection, the emotional arc, the mystery, the resolution. To be honest, and I'm not exaggerating, this is the first time in years I enjoyed fantasy so much that I wanted to be there. Also, it's not easy to pull off a POV from the opposite gender and make it this engaging!
The novelette is a re-imagining of the Cinderella fairy tale - taking place 5 years later, and from a perspective of a half-brother of the Prince Charming. It was fairly entertaining, but it didn't have any emotional impact on me and I felt like it didn't bring anything new to the table.
There are so many authors that attempt to retell the "trope" fairy tales. One of the really challenging things to look at is, how well does the author rewrite characters we've seen metamorphose time and again? I want fairy tale characters retold to be as good as say, Starbuck and Adama reimagined on Battlestar Galactica. That is the bar that I have here. In other words, don't hold back on originality but don't trash the original work as well.
I was really delighted by this story. I read it because it was nominated for the Nebula for Novelette.
This is definitely what I would call gritty-Renaissance-urban fantasy. There's a strong theme about loyalty and whether it comes from a place of fear or love. I like the fact that the main character is concerned with that. There are a lot of things i liked about the story. Revenge stories can be tiresome, so it's nice when an author explores the real consequences of revenge, and the consequences of growing up abused. There is nothing cartoonish here. This story falls into the category of "fairy tales told as realistically as you can get while still remaining fantasy". I also really liked that we had an outsider narrator. That allows us to view all the characters we normally think we know from other iterations, through a specific and unbiased lens. And when I say unbiased it's because we know the trope, but the characters don't know they are in this infamous milieu. So, I really liked the way Leah Cypress pulls this off. She reminds me a bit of Naomi Novik here.
I would read more from this author. I thought the story was well structured and it tends to thrive because it picks up on the chessgame going on slowly. I will say that the Prince/King is a more complicated man than he seems at first. I love that we learn the extent of what he's capable of through the lens of someone that trusts him so intimately, and I liked the mixture of that best-friendship mixed with the fear of ultimate hierarchy always hovering just above the character's head.
This story is told from the perspective of the bastard brother of the king (aka prince charming). This is set after 5 years after Cinderella has met the prince. This retelling includes the fae instead of the Godmother. Prince Charming is now a cold king. Queen Ella can't forget her past and is resentful of it. We are also reintroduced to the cruel stepsister who made a blood sacrifice to the fae. One of my favorite parts of this story is seeing how conflicted Ella feels towards her stepsister. She let her live but refused to let her come back to court.
SPOILERS: Her stepsister sacrificed her blood to the fair in exchange for glass slippers to make the prince fall in love with her. She doesn't understand why she ended up giving the heels to her.
This story focuses on what the king has ordered him to do and how the queen intervenes to find out what is happening. It all revolved around whether or not the stepsister would be able to come back to court. This story was interesting but didn't leave much of an impact on me. I wish we could have seen more of the stepsister, but that wasn't possible.