Updated: Jun 14
The Storyteller's Daughter
Author: Victoria McCombs Publisher: Parliament House Press Release Date: July 14th 2020 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
His shadowed face lit by flam es,
Rumpelstiltskin is my name...
For as long as anyone can remember, every child in Westfallen has been born with a Gift, and these Gifts defined them.
Then Cosette is born, Giftless.
An attempt to hide her misfortune brings her before the King, who entraps her to use her Gift as a pawn in his war.
Caught in a lie, Cosette desperately searches for a power strong enough to free her. Intrigued by whispers of an old king and a dark curse, she calls upon Rumpelstiltskin and finds him trapped in a magic deeper than she bargained for. Now, Cosette must fight to reclaim her freedom from the King and break Rumpel’s curse. When time runs out, she’ll lose more than her heart. She’ll lose her life.
** Spoiler alert ahead! You have been warned**
I received a free copy of an honest review.
YES. I FINALLY READ A GOOD ONE.
Okay, sorry for screaming. But as book bloggers, I think ya'll can understand my pure joy of reading an ARC that is actually a good read, right?
Let me get on with it.
This book is an adaptation of the famous Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. For a quick refresher, it's about how a village girl's miller dad so helpfully spread a false rumor that she can turn straw into gold to the king. In desperation, the girl to live made a deal with Rumpelstiltskin that in exchange for him to helping her, she would give Rumpelstiltskin her future first child. The thing is this child would be the girl's child that the had with the king (because the king would wed her as a reward, which is...so not creepy but that's off-topic). Either way, she didn't want to later on, and Rumpelstiltskin said that if she can tell him his name he'll let her off the deal. And she did (yay!), and everyone lived happily ever after.
Obviously, the biggest difference we can see right from the beginning was how this book had a lot more references to magic. Everyone in this kingdom has gifts except for Cosette. This flaw would become the core of her "tragic background story" element that makes her worthy of a protagonist. Either way, I personally think this book did a great job as a retelling book, because although you can see the clear inspiration behind the original fairytale, it also had its own creative elements and basis in the story enough to make it not feel like too similar or too different from the original story.
Regarding the "villain" in this book, I really appreciated how there wasn't a "one explicit villain". Even up till the end of the book, I wasn't sure of who the true antagonist was. The king was too stereotypical to be the true villain (it's kind of those decoy villain vibes I was getting from him). Conrad was in this awkward situation where everyone is warning Cosette of how "possibility dangerous he is". But heisa really nice guy, and the fact that we know what "made him dangerous" from Rampel so early on made me doubt whether he was the "true antagonist" (although I never trusted him completely). And then we got Aiden.
I liked Aiden in the beginning - he cared for our protagonist and was a perfectly nice guy, there was no reason to dislike him. But any sort of positive feelings I've had for him had diminished into nothing as his behavior started to mutate into something almost disgustingly toxic. I originally felt really bad for him because even if we know that Cosette wasn't interested in the Conrad (and hence wasn't rejecting Aiden for the prince's wealth and status), we can still perfectly understand why Aiden would see otherwise. But where any guilt I had for him left when he started to try and talk down to Cosette, to make her feel miserable and worthless, in a desperate attempt to get her to choose him.
"'I know I can't Compete with a rich prince.'
Suddenly my heart hurt from a new angle, and I took a step back. 'A simple village girl? There's nothing I'd have to offer a prince?'
Aiden raised his eyebrows at me. 'Really, Cosette? What could you offer to the heir to Westfallen?'"
Okay, okay, let me get this straight. As someone who had been reading this entire book from Cosette's perspective, I can tell you that from my observation, Cosette is a character who has a great balance between self-awareness and dignity. She is perfectly aware of her position as a magic-less, average village girl, but it also doesn't stop her from standing up for her own rights and dignity as a girl and as a human being. This is why for Aiden, her childhood friend, the person who should'veknown her better than anyoneto say something like this to her is just so...ridiculously, almost disgustingly, offensive.
And this is also my personal preference, but I loved it when Aiden tried to sabotage her by "exposing her truth for her own good" to the prince, it ended up completely backfiring thanks to Rampel's help. It's just a beautiful slap across his face (I absolutely loved it ahahaha).
But I'm not going to lie, I hated Aiden now but he made this book more interesting for me to read. Firstly because hew as a character who transformed throughout the story and secondly, the "slap across his face" I just mentioned...ah. That satisfied me to the bone.
I also really enjoyed how the romance between Rampel and Cosette was written. I loved how the "true love's kiss" was written into the story and the way it was foreshadowed. The fact that they actually kissed (worth a shot haha) before their relationship truly solidified was a really refreshing way to tell the story, especially when we kind of know that they are the official pairing. A even more interesting dynamic is created when it's heavily foreshadowed that a true love's kiss may be the solution to his curse, and yet both of them are holding back because he was dying and they were afraid of hurting each other by losing one another. They were literally afraid of falling in love while their love may best resolution to their problems...it's almost a bit of a paradox at this point.
This book is not perfect though, and I feel like it's one of those books with a weak ending that may have ruined the book for me a little bit. The ending felt quite rushed and there were several logical flaws in the decisions made (and the direction the story went) that I...don't really understand or agree with. In fact, the ending of this book was what dropped my original score from 4.5/5 to 3.8/5.
Either way, although I would recommend this to all YA readers because it's a good book in general, I would highly, highly recommend this book to retelling fans specifically. Youmayneed to throw your brain out the window and forgot what the word "logic" means toward the end...but overall I really you should be able to enjoy it for the most part.
about the author
I write YA Fantasy. I love being transported to worlds that take my breath away. Worlds so complex and vivid, and yet I get to hold them in my hands. My writing inspirations are John Flanagan, P.W. Catanese and C.S. Lewis.
In June 2018 I signed a publishing contract with Parliament House Press for my debut novel, The Storyteller's Daughter. In October 2018 I signed my second contract. I now have a contract for the first four books in that series, which will be my only fairytale retellings. Beyond that, I have a Pirate Adventure in the making, and series with a vivid world with rich kingdoms and other races, already one book done.