I requested to read this book via Netgalley, my thanks to the publishers for approving me to read. This review forms my honest opinion.
And they lived happily ever after . . . didn’t they?
Cinderella married the man of her dreams – the perfect ending she deserved after diligently following all the fairy-tale rules. Yet now, two children and thirteen-and-a-half years later, things have gone badly wrong.
One night, she sneaks out of the palace to get help from the Witch who, for a price, offers love potions to disgruntled housewives. But as the old hag flings the last ingredients into the cauldron, Cinderella doesn’t ask for a love spell to win back her Prince Charming.
Instead, she wants him dead.
Endlessly surprising and wildly inventive, The Charmed Wife is a sophisticated literary fairy tale for the twenty-first century that weaves together time and place, fantasy and reality, to conjure a world unlike any other. Nothing in it is quite what it seems, and the twists and turns of its magical, dark, swiftly shifting paths take us deep into the heart of romance, marriage and the very nature of storytelling.
It’s been a hectic few weeks in our household – renovations on our new house have the reached the running out of money stage and so we are desperately trying to do as much as we can ourselves, with a severe lack of skill but a new found penchant for YouTube videos! We’re hopefully past the most pressing of deadlines and can now begin the big clean up and slowly start the moving in process. And with cleaning on the brain, I’m going into my review of this loose sequel of sorts, The Charmed Wife. What happens after the happily ever after? Well, apparently you seek out a wicked witch and wish your husband dead…..I was sold!
It was love at first sight when I read the blurb for this novel, it had everything I wanted; a deconstruction of a fairytale, and hints of a feminist theme, all whilst erring on the dark side. A little like the novel however, the love waned a little as I read on.
Firstly, my initial negative thoughts. Essentially, it wasn’t what I was expecting, and whilst in large part that’s on me and my own expectations, I also found it hard to care about the fate of Cinderella. She was very vanilla, weak and a bit pathetic, I found myself endlessly frustrated with her as she began a seemingly never ending cycle of making the wrong decisions based on her own fantasies. The blurb had me believe that she was a strong woman on a quest of self discovery, pulling herself from this marriage she was unhappy in the most dark of ways, going against grain of fairy-tales by turning to evil.
However – and this is the huge positive….I got past these expectations and intrigued by the beautiful story telling, the language akin to that I’ve grown up with in fairytales, I continued to read, wondering what The Charmed Wife was going to deliver.
And I’m very glad I stuck with it to the end, because the ending makes sense of the confusion throughout and the penny drops as everything suddenly becomes clear, connections are made and the picture shifts entirely.
This is so much more than a fairy tale. This is a story of what happens when the shiny veneer of fantasy is scratched and of what lies beneath. It’s about the lies we’re told, and the ones we tell ourselves. Most of all it’s about realising that love and happiness comes in many different forms, and not necessarily the one that we’re sold from birth.
This is not a book of instant gratification, it’s one I found that I needed to stick with and trust in. The narrative is beautifully written and kept me reading, pulling me in, lulling me along, but once I reached the end and everything made sense, I had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to flip back to the beginning and start all over. It’s a little bit weird, a bit trippy at times, and I adored the little mouse interludes (despite being petrified of them in real life, I developed a fondness for this particular rodent civilisation).
The Charmed Wife, although not quite what I expected, actually delivered something far better; more intelligent and insightful. If you enjoy your fairy tales with a bitter twist of reality, this could be for you.