Stray (Four Sisters #1)
by Elissa Sussman.
Princess Aislynn wants nothing more than to follow the Path she was born to: complete her schooling, attend her Introduction Ball, dance with the suitors her advisor and parents have chosen for her, get married, have children, etc. At least that’s what she tells herself. But the magic inside her- born, all girls are told, from wicked and selfish desires- refuses to be silenced or controlled. When disaster strikes at her Introduction Ball, Aislynn finds herself on a Path she could never have imagined. Determined to make the best of this new life, Aislynn dedicates herself to her duties. Straying from the Path is something she’s always been taught to fear. But the more people she meets and the more she learns about what’s really going on in the world, the less sure she is that the Path has her best interests at heart.
This was an interesting one. It’s definitely in the style of a fairytale, with flavors of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, morphed into something unique. There are fairy godmothers and a wicked queen and magical items, but all with a new twist. Aislynn is the narrator and protagonist. She’s… sympathetic if not the most proactive. It’s clear from the story that critical thinking was not part of her upbringing- understandable as far as world building, but a bit annoying as a reader.
It’s also hard to give a plot summary, as I feel like most of this book was just build-up. We don’t really know a whole lot by the end about the villain(s) and their plans, or how Aislynn fits into it, or even a more precise history of the world. The book wasn’t uninteresting– there were friendships formed and bits of romance, and some slow growth in Aislynn as a character. There’s a feminine power vs. male oppression theme that I want to see ripen. So I’m definitely intrigued with the world and story. But, at the same time, it wasn’t a very satisfying read, because there are just so many loose ends and unanswered questions. Even for a first book. I would’ve liked it a bit more filled out.
That said, I think I’ll pick up book 2 and see where it goes. If you like YA fairytale-type fantasies, maybe give it a whirl yourself.