Jo and her fellow palace servants decide to stay late on the night of the ball so that they can watch all the rich nobles dance the night away. But as she is on her way rushes to see who is inside, but all she finds is a pumpkin and a single glass slipper. Not wanting to be wasteful, she brings the pumpkin home to eat, and, though she tries to leave it behind, the slipper comes along as well.
A few days later, the pumpkin is eaten, and the prince has discovered his bride Ella by means of the other glass slipper she left behind. But Jo’s slipper starts to make a humming noise that only she can hear. When she goes to the new princess to find out where the slippers came from, Jo discovers that they are a magical object, and she must return them to the sorceress that owns them, or the consequences will be dire.
I like fairy tale retellings, and I think Cinderella is my favorite one for this purpose. Of course, that also means that I have read many iterations of the story, and it’s hard to find something original. I am pleased to say that The Other Slipper manages to add something new to the retelling. Instead of being about the usual characters, this story focuses on the shoes. As the only part of the fairy godmother’s spell that remains after the clock strikes midnight, it only makes sense that they be a special kind of magic item.
As the story begins, Jo does not know that she is an heir to a magical problem far greater than she ever could have imagined, and the process by which she slowly learns all that she needs to know is spread out through the course of the novel. Unfortunately, it is not parsed out particularly well. Before she is halfway through the novel, she has met people who could tell her the entirety of what she needs to know, but they don’t tell her because they decide it’s not “their place” or because they “forgot.” I found this rather implausible and irritating.
Surprisingly enough, even though this was a fairy tale, there was not any of the typical storybook romance. At the beginning, Jo is out of luck in her own kingdom. Not only is the prince marrying someone else, but she is far taller than everyone there, and no one wants to marry the awkward tall girl. But then she travels into other kingdoms with taller people, so surely she should be able to find a prince of her own. And a quarter of the way through the novel, she meets a tall, handsome fellow named Locke who seems likely to fall into the role of “love interest.” Except that she is horribly rude to him. At first this makes sense, because she needs to protect the magical slippers from someone who might want to steal their power. But after he repeatedly assists her with otherwise insurmountable problems, I expect her to start behaving with some civility, but she does not. So does this relationship turn into an improbable match at the last minute, or are we spared having to believe that Locke is attracted to people who treat him without even a small amount of respect? You will just have to read the book to find out.
Will I read more?
I’m actually not sure whether this book is the first in a series or not. It is left open so that the characters could have more adventures, but Kenechi Udogu’s other books seem to be in separate series. I don’t know that I would want to read any more books in this series, specifically, largely because I find Jo to be a rather off-putting character. I might be willing to try another book by the author, though, even though information unfolded at an implausible pace.