Release Date: July 1, 2015
Synopsis ~ Have you ever wondered what happened after the perfect endings in some of the most beloved fairytales? For Zell (Rapunzel), CeCi (Cinderella), Bianca (Snow White), And Rory (Sleeping Beauty), it’s not all hearts and flowers. Each of them is struggling with a personal crisis which are all detailed through letters. Will they be able to find their “happily-ever-afters”?
At times hilarious, and at times sad this intriguing novel opens, with a crisis in Grimmland, which ultimately starts a chain reaction. Zell has moved to Oz to run a unicorn sanctuary with her husband without a word of warning to her three closest friends and book group members. While they’re initially angry, Zell’s actions cause each of her friends to re-evaluate their lives, and what they’re looking for in their own happy endings.
Under pressure to produce a royal heir, CeCi wishes only to become a world class chef.
Bianca is not only being forced to marry a man who she likes, but doesn’t love, but also to decide the method of her step-mother’s death which will take place at her wedding.
Rory is desperately trying to keep her marriage intact, despite her husband’s roving eye.
I think my favorite character is the foul-mouthed Bianca, who is torn between her duty to Grimmland and her love for Rachel, a mortal in the outside world. Bianca has a funny cynical view of the world which had me laughing out loud. She initially comes across as being somewhat bitchy, yet her letters reveal a softer side.
CeCi is also an endearing character. She puts up with her obnoxious step-mother living in palace mainly for the sake of her two blind step-sisters who she cares for. She and Edmund (Prince Charming), adore each other yet she keeps secret her desire for a culinary career because she doesn’t think he’ll understand.
Rory, for me is the weakest character. She out of all the characters comes across as a stereotypical goody-two-shoes Disney princess. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she eventually takes a selfish way out in complete disregard of the hurtful consequences. While I emphasize with her pain, there are so many different actions she could have taken.
Letters to Zell is slow to start but picks up the pace about fifty pages in. I think this because the back and forth nature of the letters take a little getting used to. While the worldbuilding is good, I wish a little more history was included in regards to the fairytale realms. The story unfolding through letters is clever but doesn’t always have an authentic ring to them. They mainly serve to push the story forward. What’s important to me though is that the underlying theme of pursuing your dreams and not allowing yourself to be trapped by societal conventions and other’s expectations is successfully conveyed in an imaginative and entertaining manner.
Despite it’s flaws I did enjoy this and I think if you’re a fan of fairytale retellings and authors like Gregory Maguire you should give this a try.