When I first started out reading Burn, I was intrigued. Historical fiction isn’t all too common in young adult publishing compared to contemporary fiction, fantasy and science fiction. History and fantasy crossing paths? Even less so. But Patrick Ness has an excellent track record of meshing various genres and even defying them, so I expected this one to be a hit as well. It wasn’t but I was still glad that he brought his signature postmodern outlook with a touch of whimsy.
The first time I heard the term “retelling,” I expected it to refer to reimagined fairytales. I didn’t exactly expect these to be simply be stories inspired by fairytales. Stepsister, however, is exactly that which I had originally expected of a retelling. It builds upon the well-loved fairytale of Ashputtel, blood and all. It was entertaining with its dark humour as it continued to tell the story of how it might have continued. Stepsister was more detailed since it’s a novel rather than a short story but stylistically, it still very much read like a fairytale.