on 31 July 2013
Just as she did with Poison, Sarah Pinborough does the trick here, this time with the story of Cinderella. What I really enjoy is the debunking of the traditional fairytale of the wistful poor girl, a fairy godmother, glass slippers and Prince Charming.
Once again we are treated to wicked humour, caustic observations and very human and flawed people, rather than Disney caricatures. This is not Panto!
Like Poison this is erotic and daring, again making the statement: Be careful what you wish for.
There are clearly consequences for every choice and action. I enjoyed how Pinborough has interwoven plot strands and characters into this adventure; it's all very subtle and of course, very clever.
Inventive, with lots of surprises, unexpected developments and a modern take on an old theme, this will please fans of Poison. I will certainly never think of Cinderella in the same way again!
Charm is the second book in Sarah Pinborough's series of dark, sexy fairy retellings and is the story of Cinderella. This series quickly became one of my favourites after reading the first book, Poison, in May, and Charm has further cemented that. They're five-star reads all round.
Charm has everything you know about the Cinderalla fairytale: two ugly(ish) stepsisters, a Prince, a fairy godmother and a glass slipper. What it doesn't have is a sugary sweet happy ending courtesy of Disney, which is one of the reasons I love these books so much. They're dark, twisted and a little bit naughty - not at all what you'd imagine these fairytales to be like.
To top it all off, Sarah Pinborough's writing is ridiculously good: elegant and effortless while all the time maintaining a certain sense of foreboding and unease. A certain scene in Charm involving a little toe is rather on the shocking side, but it just goes to show how truly dark this author can be. These are not fairytales as we know and love them, but wow are they a welcome change of pace!
Charm's pages are filled with delightful characters and wicked imagery that leaves an unsettling feeling in its wake. It's well-written, addictive, sharp, everything I could possibly want from a book. Beauty is published in mid-October and I am literally counting down the days. I want it and I want it now!
on 11 May 2015
Sarah Pinborough's Charm is a charmingly dark and beautifully written companion novel to the amazing retelling of Snow White, Poison. The Titan Books edition of Poison was a very pleasant surprise for me and so was Charm, because it's one of the best fairy tale retellings ever written for adults. Charm is my kind of a dark and beautifully told fairy tale retelling, because it contains many dark, brutal and twisted elements that appeal to my imagination.
As a big fan of the darker and weirder side of speculative fiction I was very impressed by Sarah Pinborough's approach to the Cinderella fairy tale. Her version is coated with irresistible darkness and potent raw power that is seldom found in fairy tale retellings. It's a tender yet brutal retelling that will appeal to many readers.
It's great that Sarah Pinborough has managed to add something new and fresh to the Cinderella fairy tale. She clearly seems to love and respect old fairy tales, because she has modernized this fairy tale in a fantastic way. She understands that when you write a fairy tale retelling, you must have enough vision and boldness to make it different from the original story, but not too different to alienate readers who are familiar with the original story.
I think it's good to mention that this fairy tale retelling is not suitable for children. Because there's sex and brutality in this story, it can only be recommended for adults.
Here's information about the story:
It's winter and many children have gone missing. Nobody knows what has happened to them and people are worried about them... Cinderella has a step-mother, Esme, and two step-sisters, Rose and Ivy. Ivy is married to the Viscount, but Rose is still unmarried... Soon two Bride Balls will be held and the Prince shall choose his bride by the end of the two balls and Cinderella wants to go there, but knows that it's impossible for her to attend the Bride Balls, because Rose will go there. Suddenly Cinderella meets her fairy godmother who helps her, but good deeds come with a price...
This is a fascinating beginning to a well told tale about Cinderella that's full of surprises.
All the well-known elements (step-mother, step-sisters, fairy godmother, the shoe etc) of the original fairy tale are present in this retelling. The author writes well about these elements and adds her own kind of magic to the story by spicing it with sex and brutality. These adult elements add a fascinating coating of roughness to this retelling and make it stand out among other retellings.
It's wonderful how much depth Sarah Pinborough has added to the characters. The characterization is excellent and works well, because the characters feel realistic and believable. This is something that is quite rare in fairy tale retellings. (In my opinion, Sarah Pinborough is one of the few authors who are capable of writing realistically about fairy tale characters and their lives.)
Cinderella is a realistic character, because she has her own dreams, hopes and needs. She fantasizes of a different kind of life, because she does housekeeping at home and is mostly ignored by her family. The author writes fluently about Cinderella's dreams and wishes, and she also pays attention to what happens when some of them are shattered. The author also writes well about Cinderella's beauty, because she's a pretty girl. She's much prettier than her step-sisters (her step-sisters are plain when compared to her).
Cinderella's step-mother is an interesting character, because she has never understood money. She was born in wealth and also married in wealth, but when she met Cinderella's father and ran away with him, she gradually had to learn the cost of things. She has her own dreams and hopes for her daughters and wishes to be part of the royal life in the castle.
Buttons is a wonderful minor character, because he's a thief, but also an errand boy at the castle. He's Cinderella's friend and he brings her things. He's a bit like Robin Hood, because he steals from the rich and gives to the poor.
Cinderella's father is also an intriguing character. The author reveals interesting things about his marriage to Cinderella's mother and his new marriage to Esme. Cinderella learns from his father that life is not as simple as she thought it would be. She also learns a few hidden truths about her own mother that shock her.
What happens between Cinderella and Rose is handled in a perfect way. I was positively surprised when I found out that the author had been able to create a complex relationship between them and wasn't afraid to explore it.
One of the most fascinating things about Charm is that Cinderella is described as a young woman who has sexual needs and likes to be touched in a sexual way. She doesn't think there's anything bad in touching, because she considers it to be natural. She also has sexual fantasies about the Prince.
It was great that the author wrote boldly about how Cinderella felt about true love and her attraction towards the Prince. She had a few lessons to learn, because achieving what you wished for appeared to be more difficult than she thought, because reality differed quite a lot from her dreams and hopes. It was interesting to read about what Cinderella felt when she found out that her life would probably not be what she expected it to be. She learns the hard way that you have to be careful what you wish for, because it may come true.
It's interesting that the author has added elements from other fairy tales to this short novel. It was intriguing for me to read about the references to Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, because they were part of the story (it's nice how fluently characters from other fairy tales appear in this story).
Both Poison and Charm can be read as standalone short novels, but I recommend reading both of them, because that way you'll be able to see how they're connected to each other. There's an interesting and important connection between Poison and Charm, but I'm not going to reveal what it is, because that wouldn't fair to readers.
The ending of Charm is brilliant in every way. I enjoyed it very much, because it was something unexpected. It's great that the author has managed to add unpredictability to the story, because it makes the story entertaining. I think that readers will be pleasantly surprised by the ending.
If you're a fan of dark fairy tales, dark fantasy or horror stories, please do yourself a big favour and read this novel. This short novel will please all fans of dark stories and fairy tales, because it's dark in a good way. The author has created a perfect atmosphere with just the right amount of darkness to make things intriguing for readers. This retelling has the same kind of seducing darkness in it as the classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm.
Because Sarah Pinborough gives a charmingly dark and sexy makeover to the Cinderella fairy tale, it's possible to say that after you finish reading this short novel, you'll never think about Cinderella the same way again. This story is wonderfully different from the original story and it will appeal to fans of the original story.
Just like the Titan Books edition of Poison, this Titan Books edition of Charm is truly a work of art. The cover illustrations are beautiful and the harcover edition looks stunningly gorgeous. This edition will please all fans of beautifully made books.
By the way, if you find yourself enjoying Charm and want to read more similar kind of stories, please take a look at its companion short novels, Poison and Beauty.
If you're looking for something dark and thrilling to read, please read Sarah Pinborough's Charm, because it offers you style, originality and good prose in a beautiful package. If you've ever read any fairy tales and have enjoyed reading them, you should immediately read this retelling of Cinderella, because you won't regret it. It's an excellent fairy tale for adults who want the best from their fantasy stories.
on 24 September 2013
I enjoyed this more than the first.
Charm focuses on Cinderella. She lives with her father, step-mother and step-sister. In this retelling Cinderella still has to do most of the housework but her family does love her and she loves her sister Rose. Her other step sister is married to an Earl.
The king decides to host a ball over 2 days for the prince so he can choose a wife. Every noble born girl is invited. Cinderella isn't noble born and is so jealous and upset when Rose goes. She makes a wish to be able to go and a very familiar woman appears. She grants the wish but with a catch!! All Cinderella wants is to marry the prince and live in the castle no matter the cost. She goes to the ball and with a little help from some enchanted slippers gets her wish.
I loved Charm! There were so many twists and a few familiar faces in it that I flew through the book. I was riveted from the get go. I loved that we got to see a certain mouse in this and we got to see the evil queen from Poison. For me the way both books were intertwined was what added so much more to Charm.
I connected more with this than Poison because I felt there was so much more in this story. I loved Rose. She made the book!! She really loves Cinderella and is so brave and good and kind. Even when her own mother pushes her so hard, she wasn't mean. She forgives Cinderella for what she did and does all she can to help her. I wanted to see more of her and I'm hoping we will because of that ending!!!
The step-mother I liked as well. She really loves Cinderellas father and just wants a better life for them.
I liked Cinderella towards the end but for most of the story she came across not so much as a spoilt brat but more of a self centered, "Whoa is me" kind of a person. She definitely wasn't like the fairytale character!!
For me the best thing about Charm was the secondary characters. They added so much more to the story. I loved Buttons, he was like the Robin Hood of that time.
Sarah Pinborough took a well known fairytale and added a lot more Charm to it. She created a world all of her own which you cant help but love.
Charm is sinfully sexy, dark and a must read. It can be read as a standalone but I strongly recommend reading Poison first so you can get the full glory of the book. I cant wait for Beauty and hope to see some of the characters I have come to love.
on 13 November 2013
After reading Poison, the first in this fairy tale trilogy I was excited to read Charm as soon as possible. I was not disappointed. Cinders, the ugly sisters and the prince all get radical make-overs in this sexed up version of Cinderella.
This is the grown up version, the one you really want to read. Cinders has mood swings, the prince is vain and there is definitely more to the sisters than meets the eye. I don't want to give anything away, but there's definitely a bit of Cinderella in all of us.
Go and buy this now... I'm off to read Beauty.