This is not the Cinderella fairy tale you’ve been brought up with. Gone is the wicked step mother and the horrible step sisters, and in their place we have Agnes, and the often heart breaking and emotional tale of her struggling desperately to keep her family together and safe from the harsh realities of serfdom.
This retelling has a surprising amount of depth, and touches on some fairly thought provoking themes, among them looking into the meaning of beauty, and how self absorbed and cruel society can be towards those who do not meet their beauty standards. And how all too often in stories, beauty is associated with all that is kind and good in the world, while those who are less attractive are typically the evil antagonist.
It does not take place in a magical fairy tale kingdom, but instead it is woven into a more realistic and medieval world full of peasants and arranged marriages, of poverty, sickness and abuse. Where those born into serfdom struggle to be fed, with little chance to change their fate. They die, and often and in tragic ways, while those born to titles want for little, and care naught for the struggles of others.
Twisted, novel, and delightfully dark, I thoroughly enjoyed All the Ever Afters.
4 out of 5 stars.
* This eBook ARC was provided by HarperCollins through Edelweiss for an honest review.