Van Horton Books

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By Hester Velmans

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A unique take on the classic fairy tale Cinderella, SLIPPER blends historical fact with historical fiction to create a starkly realistic yet hopeful tale of overcoming hardship.

Orphaned at birth, Lucinda is raised among her wealthy relatives under the care of her nurse Bessie Goose in the English countryside. Abused and neglected by her family, Lucinda is forced into a life of servitude where she finds moments of comfort in the servants who have embraced her as their own. But all is not as it seems, and when Lucinda grows into a family lineage that’s more honorable than a simple cinder sweep, she knows she’s destined for greater things. Escaping to France to follow an infatuation, Lucinda matures in the face of war and hardship, eventually crossing paths with the man who will turn her harrowing journey into one of the world’s most beloved fairy tales.

SLIPPER is not the Cinderella retelling that one would expect, and that’s exactly what makes the story so fresh and unique. It presents a narrative where the classic fairy tale was inspired by a young woman, Lucinda, who lived during the seventeenth century. And while the entire story is fiction, it seems plausible enough, told with a keen attention to historical detail and a clear, genuine love for fairy tale tropes. Allusions to Cinderella are woven into the novel, in clever little callbacks like Lucinda inheriting a pair of glass beaded slippers. Her beloved caretaker Bessie, who is an overprotective yet nurturing and kindhearted mother figure, is Perrault’s future inspiration for Mother Goose. SLIPPER feels realistic in its skillful blend of history and fiction, adding historical figures to the ensemble as though the fictional characters alongside them existed, too.

It’s no easy feat pulling together a saga that charts one character’s life. Lucinda’s journey is difficult to read at times—she’s surrounded by a tiring cast of insufferable men who exploit and sexually abuse her repeatedly. Lucinda’s endless string of bad luck can feel exhausting as the novel wears on. The overall pace of SLIPPER is a bit uneven; some events that should’ve been expanded on were rushed, distancing the audience from the characters in certain key moments. Some may be exasperated by Lucinda’s naïve actions, but her character growth, maturity, and willingness to work toward her own happy ending redeems any initial frustrations.

~Jessica Thomas for IndieReader

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