The end of 2016 saw me reading a lot of shorter fantasy stories, novellas, really. Which was fun, and allowed me to actually finish some of the books that had been piling up on my TBR (to be read) stack. As an added bonus, all of them were also extremely enjoyable, and A Wish Made of Glass by Ashlee Willis was no exception.
I had been interested in this story since reading The Word Changers, the author’s debut novel, and even more intrigued once I saw the cover, which I thought was both beautiful and mysterious. Somehow I missed that this was a Cinderella-retelling, so that was kind of a fun thing to discover once I picked up the book and started reading. Isn’t that cover pretty? I love it.
While the story does indeed follow the basic outline of the Cinderella tale, this little book is a very different take on the classic fairy tale. Told from the first-person perspective of the “Cinderella” character, the story progresses much as you would expect, with the addition of the “fey folk” at the beginning. The MC dances with these ethereal beings as a child and is entranced by the shimmering glass slippers they wear upon their feet. Her mother tells her that the fey folk carry their hearts: their dreams and hopes and lives themselves, within those slippers.
From there, grief and tragedy follow, and the story progresses much as any good Cinderella retelling ought to, with some major twists on various characters and themes. There is no “evil stepmother.” No, “vicious and vain stepsister” for our MC to contend with. Instead, she must deal with her own grief and eventual jealousy throughout the story – and they are the main villains.
The story is told in such a way that I hovered on the brink of indecision as to whether I ought to despise the main character or feel sorry for her. Her thoughts and actions often drove me crazy, but her instant contrition and repentance when it became apparent that she was in the wrong endeared her to me, even as she continued to make the same mistakes and jump to the wrong conclusions over and over. In the end, I think sympathy won the day, but probably only because the story was so short and clipped along at a speedy pace so that I didn’t have to spend too much time revisiting old mistakes made again and again.
Despite my inability to make a decision about the main character for most of the book, I really did enjoy this story. It is a very well-done retelling of a beloved classic, and I loved the twists that pulled out new themes I would not have normally expected in a Cinderella story. If you enjoy fairy tale retellings in general (or the Cinderella story in particular), and want a sweet, clean, short read, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this. I’d also recommend reading it in winter, as that season features quite a bit in the story, so it makes for a nice cozy read as well.
5 Dragon Eggs