After giving you a write up about Jim C. Hines THE STEPSISTER SCHEME I went to his website and looked around. I was happy I did as I found I had missed a book and a new one is out here in 2011. I found a copy of RED HOOD'S REVENGE at the local used bookstore and devoured it in two days time. I guess one reason was it contained the story of Sleeping Beauty, Talia, who I really like as a character.
Hines has twisted the Fairy Tale story on its ear a bit by taking it back to the roots of the genre where all never really ended well. The three princesses who are central to the novel have had horrendous heartbreak and only Cinderella, Danielle, made it to a truly happy ending. Snow White or Snow is very funny and will be central in the next book. She has a twist on her seven dwarfs that have only really appeared in the first book. She is however the resident sorceress.
It is Sleeping Beauty who was tragic and now we get to see her tale revisited as another tragic figure steps from the shadows. Little Red Riding Hood, or Roudette (The Lady of the Red Hood) as she is named here is an assassin and has tangled with Talia before. Now their paths cross again in a twisted story of political intrigue with fairy magic thrown in. She has some interesting secrets. The story really is superb.
Also included is the European based Wild Hunt. This group of terrifying warriors that hunt and kill from midnight until dawn is a great scary element to this book. I love how Hines seamlessly integrates the elements of so many fairy tales and legends. It is what in my opinion makes these books special. Making Sleeping Beauty such a strong yet broken figure is what makes me root for her. She slept for 100 years, when the Prince chopped through the deadly thorn hedge he killed her entire family and household, basically raped her as she still slept and left telling all she was dead while his family assumed control of the country. She awakens nine moths later as she gives birth to twins. Later she kills the Prince as he tries to force her to be with him again and flees the country a murderer and has to leave her boys behind. So to say that she is not a very complex character would be nonsense.
These are wonderful books that I really enjoy. I hope if you try them you will enjoy them as well.