Very enjoyable Cinderella retelling. Trystan is a typical Cinderella in many ways: isolated, bullied by her stepmother, and enjoys manual labor. And it follows the typical Cinderella beats in a lot of the normal expectations: meeting the prince ahead of time, love at first sight, getting dressed up for the ball by unexpected patrons, the ball, the search for her afterward. But what this retelling does which is delightfully subversive is to take a step back and look at what Cinderella’s circumstances would also have made her vulnerable to: the machinations and political intrigue of people who would take advantaged of her situation. In this version, Trystan isn’t just a victim of her stepmother’s bullying, she’s also the patsy of larger political wheels, and her success at the ball is no accident: it’s all a larger plot to take down the prince and change the power structure of the kingdom. Her heroism isn’t just breaking out from under her stepmother’s thumb (which takes courage, but isn’t that difficult, all things considered), but undo a criminal conspiracy and save the kingdom (a more challenging task for a future queen). Fun and exciting read.
4-star quick review: “Traitor’s Masque” (Kenley Davidson)