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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
What does it really mean to be Prince Charming? For that matter, what does it really mean to be Cinderella? Dmitriv is supposed to choose a wife at the ball, but he’s having too much fun flirting with all the ladies who hover around him. It boosts his ego and makes him feel important. But at what cost? Does he realize how many people he’s hurting with his devil-may-care attitude? And what about Vasilisa? Is she really a Cinderella figure, sent to the ball by a fairy godmother? Is she really completely sweet, innocent and incapable of hurting anyone?
There is another figure in this story. The narrator, who just happens to be Dmitriv’s sister, Anastasia. She provides the insight and the morals that move this story forward. Being royal is not all about power and prestige and looking good. Being royal comes with a responsibility to care for others, to show respect and honor to all people. Being ordinary, like Vasilisa, also has its responsibilities, as the girl gradually realizes. Not everyone is perfect, or above reproach.
Harma-Mae Smit’s Is He Prince Charming? Retelling Cinderella is a refreshing new look at the popular fairy tale. The author weaves a compelling story, loosely reminiscent of the original Cinderella story. By including the prince’s sister as the narrator, the reader gets an outside glimpse of both the prince and the charming Cinderella character (Vasilisa). Neither one is perfect. As the fairy godmother eloquently points out in her midnight tantrum: “Fifty-three times I’ve gone through this! You’d think someone would eventually get it right!” Sadly, in the fairy godmother’s tirade, even Vasilisa learns that there is a downside to being good, kind and sensitive. Like all good fairy tales, this one makes us look more closely at ourselves. Well done!