As much as I enjoyed the Six of Crows duology, I have no love lost for the original Grisha trilogy. Nonetheless, Nikolai still managed to win me over for his charm and wit. That’s why I was excited when Leigh Bardugo announced a spin-off duology dedicated to him.
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.
The first 200 pages were not written well. I was bored and felt growing discomfort with the mangled Middle Eastern culture this fantasy book was premised on. At least the next 150 odd pages picked up a little in terms of plot and also storytelling, so I didn’t end up thoroughly hating Rebel of the Sands. Still, this book has so many problems, I’m relieved I didn’t order the sequels before finishing this one first.