by Elissa Sussman
Series: Four Sisters #1
Published: October 7, 2014
Genres: Fairy Tale, Romance, Young Adult
Format: eARC (384 pages)
Source: For Review
Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.
When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.
But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.
After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?
After reading the acknowledgements by the author, I could see the Into the Woods inspiration. Stray follows the sappy fairy tale stereotype and gives it a darker undertone especially about it’s control towards women. If you kept Cinderella almost the same but made it slightly darker with forbidden magic you might have something like Stray.
This fairy tale was all about controlling women and how they aren’t valued in this world even though they are technically powerful. I know it was supposed to be a satire but sometimes it was difficult to read about the extreme rules for them all towards the goal of getting married. The girls act ridiculous and when one of them eats before going to a ball I couldn’t get the image of Scarlet O’Hara reluctantly stuffing her face and wondering why you have to be so ridiculous just to catch a husband.
The world building just wasn’t very strong. While I liked the plot, it felt hard to imagine the world because it was a little confusing. The biggest problem for me, though, was the question of why these girls would even put up with all these crazy restrictions or where they came from in the first place. That thought pulled me out of the story a lot because it was never really answered very well.
The writing was ok for the most part. A few cheesy lines here and there with the cliche “breath she didn’t know she was holding.” I’m so glad she figured it out in time or she might have died. And my favorite “Suddenly” was in there more than I prefer. But it had some good writing too. Just not terribly consistent. I liked the characters and their relationships. The villain gives speeches about having fun with the poor, powerless protagonist and it made me roll my eyes.
I didn’t like the beginning. It throws me into an action scene right away but I’m not sure why I should care yet. I’m not a fan of when authors do that.
And to be very, very nitpicky – she doesn’t use the term “artless” like I’m used to Jane Austen using it and it irked me.
Overall, it was a different take on fairy tales that had an interesting plot but the world building wasn’t my favorite.
Content Rating: Medium, for some violence. The language was pretty mild if there was any. It’s been a while since I read it so I don’t remember for sure.
This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links. I received this book for review from the publisher, Harper Collins, in exchange for an honest review. I was not told what to say, I was not paid to write this review and all the opinions expressed are my own. I read an Advanced Reading Copy for this review.