Hey all, Dani here.
Continuing on my theme for this month of highlighting books that I enjoy with characters who happen to be LGBTQIA+, I have to include this amazing reimagining of some of our favorite fairy tale princesses.
The Princess series by Jim C. Hines is absolutely fantastic. It follows Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, and they are all kick butt awesome ladies. Picture this story as fairy tale princesses meets Charlie’s Angels. There are four books in the series: The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaid’s Madness, Red Hood’s Revenge, and The Snow Queen’s Shadow.
I don’t want to completely spoil anything for this series, but one of the main trio is in love with another of the main trio, and I ship this couple so hard. It is so wonderful and I find it to be incredibly believable. When the one actually revealed her feelings by saving the other with True Love’s Kiss, I was…I don’t want to say surprised, because it wasn’t a shock or anything, but I was definitely excited. I will say that this pairing made me watch Once Upon a Time a bit differently.
Plus, this series takes place after the supposed “Happily Ever After” in each of the fairy tales, and it shows that what we believed to be a happy ending was actually just the start of a lot of misery (mostly)…but these ladies find a way to keep going, to keep fighting, and to strive for a new happy ending.
I would definitely classify this series as more a twist on the Brother’s Grimm version of fairy tales over Disney, because there are some gruesome and adult scenes and themes (for example rape). It wasn’t done to titillate and in my opinion was done as a way to understand why the character is how she is today, and it was frankly an important moment when she discussed the events with her companions.
Anyway, I am absolutely a fan of re-imaginings of fairy tale stories and I thought this was so creative, and I very much enjoyed that it wasn’t all happiness and kittens and rainbows. There are hardships to face and despite taking place in a fictional land, it all felt very real to me. I have become a huge fan of Jim C Hines because of this series (and his Magic Ex Libris series, which features an amazing librarian character who can pull items out of books and then use them–so cool).
Here’s the summary for the first book of the series, The Stepsister Scheme:
You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach that inevitable line: “And they lived happily ever after…” Guess what? It’s not true. Life in never-never land isn’t all sweetness and light. Cinderella – whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas) – does marry Prince Armand. And (if you can ignore the pigeon incident) their wedding is a dream-come-true.
But not long after the “happily ever after,” Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia – otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty – comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away.
That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her very own Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting.
Can three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland’s most nefarious villains?
I’ll be honest, I think Talia is my favorite character. The second book introduces us to an insane version of the Little Mermaid, and wow, that was actually pretty interesting to read. My favorite of the series just might be the third book, which brings in Red Riding Hood, who is a bad ass assassin. The final book wraps up the storylines and gives us a dark version of Snow (who is possessed by a demon). It’s certainly not a 100% happily ever after style ending, but I think that stays true to the concept of the series.
All in all the Princess series is phenomenal and I kind of wish there were more books to look forward to. Maybe someday in the future Hines will decide to return to this lovely world because there are so many fairy tale characters out there that more stories could certainly crop up.