The Ugly Stepsister - Aya Ling


When Kat accidentally rips a page from an old Cinderella book, she’s transported right into the story – as one of the ugly stepsisters. To return home, she needs to ensure the happily ever after – but while Cinderella is a maid, the other stepsister is gorgeous, the fairy godmother is missing and the ridiculously hot prince has his eye on someone else. Kat needs to muster all of her modern-day-girl wiles to complete the story or she’ll be trapped in a story world with no electricity, internet, or women’s rights forever.


I loved the worldbuilding. I loved how Kat was sucked into a story all of its own, and how it seemed kind of similar to the Georgian era, but you know, with fairies and gnomes and magic and stuff. I totally bought this town at the base of a huge palatial castle and even the tedium of the social engagements Kat was forced to endure as an unmarried lady were believable – even all the girls throwing themselves at the prince, because what else happens in a Cinderella story?


Kat was a really cool character. Her modern-day sensibilities and personality completely took over the body of the ugly stepsister Katriona and she strived to make life better not only for Cinderella-to-be, but for the other household servants and the general populace, starting with the much abused children. I really liked how it took time for her to change from the shy, clumsy girl into a confident young woman, and the change was almost unremarkable.


Kat’s relationships were by far the strongest aspect of the book. Her relationship with Elle, the future Cinderella, was sweet and caring and totally inappropriate – but that’s what made it so great. Poppy was a darling and I could tell from the first moment she and Kat would be great friends. Bianca was as cold as ice and it reflected in her relationship with her sister.

But the relationship with the prince, Edward, was stunning. Kat wasn’t even interested in him because she knew he was destined for Elle, which made watching him fall in love with her and then her realising her own feelings that much more fun. It was a totally awesome kind of forbidden love and just a little bit swoony, complete with Mr Darcy-like dislike of him upon the initial meeting. Oh, it was just so cleverly written and I totally ended up shipping those two so hard. Sorry, Elle!


I was even kept in suspense on how it might end – I had my certain hopes, but none of them came true. I found the ending satisfactory, and although I don’t necessarily agree that Kat went through everything only to be asked out by a hot boy, I do have to admit that she changed as a character and the ending would not have worked if she hadn’t grown and spent all that time in Storyworld.

Overall I adored this book – the quality was just as high as a traditionally published book and it had enough twists on the traditional Cinderella retelling to keep me guessing til the very end. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys comedies of errors, contemporary YA and fairytale retellings.


I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.