Faerie Tale Friday

Faerie Tale Friday: All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller (The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother)

The Book:

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Book Title: All the Ever Afters

Book Author: Danielle Teller

Page Count: 384

Publishing Date: May 22nd, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow

Date Read: March 8th, 2018

Synopsis:  In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.


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The Original Faerie Tale:

The majority of the older versions of Cinderella involve her stepmother, and stepsisters, being cruel, hateful beings that inflict mental and physical abuse on her. Cinderella is often forced in to manual labor. She is usually treated unfairly and insulted daily, as even her name was meant to be an insult.

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The Review:

All the Ever Afters is realistically refreshing! It is captivating and emotional. With a unique twist on a classic faerie tale villain, this one is sure to impress!

When I saw the synopsis for this one, I was immediately drawn in. Heartless by Marissa Meyer went to my mind, and I was expecting a whimsical tale about why Cinderella’s stepmother was evil. What I got was a more realistic story about Agnes and her upbringing, and a twist on Cinderella’s character.

This one read like a historical fiction novel. There was no magic, no faerie god mother. It had logical explanations for the unexplainable aspects of past Cinderella tales.

It was an emotionally trying road for Agnes. I enjoyed learning about her background and her struggles. The story had more of a slow pace to it, but it was well developed in terms of showing us the difficult journey Agnes faced on her way to becoming Cinderella’s stepmother.

I enjoyed the twist of character personalities. The stepsisters were the ones who were teased and ridiculed, due to prejudice, and Agnes was the one forced in to hard manual labor for most of her life. Cinderella was actually more on the spoiled brat side and never really had to work for anything.

The story had a bit more sexual content than I had expected. It wasn’t very graphic in nature, but certainly was not anticipated. The story also highlighted issues of rape and abuse from the time period that the tale would have originally taken place in, so it was interesting to have the realism thrown in to the story. It gave dimension to the struggle of women, in general, instead of making everything seem fanciful and alluring.

The story had a Grimm’s feel to it. It seemed to teach some moral lessons while highlighting the ugliness of the period, and of human nature. It was a refreshing take on an “untold story” that had several unpredictable twists. So, it wasn’t really a “faerie tale,” but it was a unique twist on a classic faerie tale that provoked some deep thoughts about true villains and the ugliness of humanity through history. I’d rate this one 3.5 stars (or 4 faeries since realistically it would be cruel to cut a faerie in half).

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Thank you to the Edelweiss and William Morrow (Harper Collins) for providing me with this free e-copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Discussion:

How do you feel about origin stories?

I personally love them. Though, they don’t always fit in the faerie tale genre, they are an interesting way to take a second look at a particular faerie tale. Origin stories help us make sense of some of the more fantastical tales.

How do you feel when realism is thrown in to the mix?

When dealing with origin tales, I enjoy a fair amount of realism. Again, these type of stories help us see a tale in a different light. They help us relate to the villains of the stories. The realism also helps us learn a bit about why the morals are there and it makes us see why magic and faerie tales were created to begin with.

Do you consider origin stories faerie tales?

A faerie tale is defined as a story involving magic and/or imaginary beings, or a story meant to mislead. Going with this definition, this origin story would technically not be a faerie tale, but an origin tale like Heartless would be. My personal opinion is that a faerie tale is any story involving magic and morals.

What about you? Chat with me below on these questions, and anything that comes to mind with origin tales or “untold” faerie tales.

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18 thoughts on “Faerie Tale Friday: All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller (The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother)

  1. I love origin stories but modern reinterpretations when well done are really great to read! Now you chose a “fresh from the press” this week Adrienne! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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