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New Release Review: CINDERELLA’S DRESS by Shonna Slayton

A new YA historical with a touch of fantasy…

Cinderella’s Dress
by Shonna Slayton

Blurb:

Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dresses is even tougher.

Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dresses, life gets complicated.

Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart, Johnny, stuck in the middle of battle, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

Review:

I had such high hopes for this one…look at the cover! Read the blurb! Who doesn’t want to read a historical fiction/fairy tale modernization mashup? There’s oodles of potential here–and while it wasn’t a wasted read, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting (and hoping for) either.

What I did love about this book–or should I say who?–was the character of Johnny. He’s snarky but in a good-natured way; good-looking yet approachable. He didn’t hold a grudge, and he was a darn good letter writer. He makes an excellent YA book boyfriend, though he doesn’t get nearly enough page time here.

Another plus for me was the dresses. I loved the description of them as well as the concept. The ball gown especially has some sneaky mad skills (not going to spoil what they are here) that were unexpected and very cool. I would really have liked to have seen more about them, though, so I could really understand how that particular part of this novel’s world “worked”.

One thing I was really looking forward to was the WWII setting–to be honest, it’s a huge part of why I picked this book to read and review. Though there were many historical aspects that were mentioned and gave me warm historical fuzzies, overall I just didn’t get that feeling of total immersion in the time period that I was hoping for. The characters gave off a modern-day vibe throughout much of the book. Sure, the situations they were in were historical, but their reactions, comments, and actions didn’t always ring true to the era they were supposed it be in. I did love the letters back and forth between Kate and her brother, father, and sweetheart, though–they were a really fun touch.

The timeline of the novel was uneven–in parts time passed at a moderate pace with daily events described as they happened. Then there were gaps in time that went by without explanation, though, and it often took me a bit to realize that we’d gone forward in time from the paragraph before. (This could possibly be something that’s addressed in the final copy–maybe the ARC didn’t show an indicator that the final will, reflecting the shift in time?) It made the story feel somewhat disjointed, and this reader at least feeling like she was playing frequent catch up.

The odd pacing was reflected in the ending as well–everything happened very quickly, and not everything felt as if it were a natural progression of what had come before. There were pretty major loose ends left by the novel’s end, and no clear indication of whether or not there is going to be a second book. (If there is, I’ll probably give it a go–I really do want to know what happened with the characters who are left hanging, and how the dresses are doing in the future–plus, hopefully the narrative of book two will be tightened up more than that of book one.)

There also was some unnecessary repetition–of comments, thoughts, situations–that made it all the more frustrating when things I really wanted to know about (how do the dresses work? what do keepers do? what’s the real history behind the story–the drama between the descendants of Cinderella and the descendants of the stepsisters through the generations?) are only addressed in vague generalizations.

Kate’s character too was a bit of a mixed bag–on the whole she wasn’t bad, but she made some choices that just made me cringe. She was also really quick to make assumptions and then act on them without checking to see if they were holding true or not. (Also, her first kiss takes so long to come that at first I didn’t even realize it was the first one. Until she told me it was, that is.)

Overall, this book used a whole lot of words to tell not nearly enough story. There was so much potential here, but reading the novel felt as if you were just skimming over events, never really getting truly immersed in them. I probably will give book two–if there is one–a chance, but that will be more on the potential of this one than its reality.

Plus, I’d love to see more of Johnny. Not to mention Kate’s older brother Floyd….

Rating: 3 stars / C

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
View all my reviews

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