V.M. Sawh’s Cinders is a dark retelling of Cinderella. Our protagonist, Rella, meets the prince in her bid to assassinate him and win her freedom from her stepmother’s brothel.
Ever since childhood, I have had a special corner for Cinderella. The story of a girl beating all odds and achieving her dreams has always struck a chord with me. There have been countless renditions of Cinderella over the centuries. Each version has its own speciality.
V.M. Sawh’s Cinders is a reimagining of Cinderella. However, the first book in the Good Tales For Bad Dreams is not like any other Cinderella story. Our protagonist, Rella, is a young girl held captive in a brothel called the Black House. Her stepmother aims to auction her virtue for the highest price. Cruelly tormented by her stepsisters, Rella’s only dream is to escape. Her opportunity to taste freedom comes with the arrival of Godfrey. Rella is tasked to assassinate Prince Charlemagne in exchange for her freedom from a life of immorality and cruelty.
Will Rella murder the prince? Will she be able to gain freedom? Most importantly, will she be able to achieve her dreams of love and respectability?
Cinders, penned by V.M. Sawh, is a short novella that will keep you on tenterhooks till the very end. Unlike Disney’s Cinderella, Cinders is much similar to the original fairytale. There is a prevailing darkness that sends chills down your spine. There is action, drama, romance, and also a sprinkling of adult tropes. This makes us root for Rella all the more. Unlike a damsel in distress, the orphaned Rella is a headstrong girl who is willing to do anything to achieve her dreams. She is not a passive character. Though she has no choice but to bear the torment of her stepmother and stepsisters, she does not keep quiet. I loved her sharp retorts. Rella’s meeting with the prince was indeed like a magical fairytale. Right from the moment they met, the air crackled with their chemistry. After all, Charlemagne was not just a cardboard Prince Charming. He was compassionate and had big dreams. Rella and Charlemagne made the perfect match. You can’t help but hope that they end up together.
Rella’s stepmother and stepsisters, Drucilda and Anastasia, were real pieces of work. Yet, they were not stereotypical. Though cruel and sadistic, there was depth in them. V.M. Swah made me want to know more about their pasts. Godfrey was as far from Disney’s blue-clad wand-wielding grandmotherly fairy godmother as anyone could be. He was on the opposite spectrum of Billy Porter’s portrayal of the fab godmother in the 2021 version of Cinderella. He is malicious and smarmy. Yet, there was something about him that made me want to know what made him tick.
V.M. Sawh is a brilliant author. The few errors that I found can easily be fixed and did not hamper my reading experience. I love how Sawh took a popular fairytale and gave it a gothic twist. The wintry theme made the story all the more captivating. I will highly recommend Cinders to fans of adult fairytales. People who like reading gothic tales would love this book as well.
- Title: Cinders
- Author: V.M. Sawh
- Genre: Adult Fairytale
- Theme: Cinderella story, Freedom, Virtue, Love, Action
- Publication Date: November 21, 2013
- ISBN or ASIN: B00GW8G990
- Number of Pages: 34
- Minimum Audience Age: 16
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 3
- Religious themes: 0
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 3
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 1
- Other adult themes: 0
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 4 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 4.8 out of 5
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One thought on “A Book Review by Kajori: “Cinders” by V.M. Sawh”
We often forget that original fairytales are, mostly, pretty dark and gruesome. It’s refreshing to see someone reinvent this.
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