3 out of 4 stars
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Did you ever think that the story of Cinderella would be better if it had some sex and more violence? If so, then you may enjoy this short tale, Good Tales for Bad Dreams: Cinders by V.M. Sawh.
This story features Rella, a young woman living in a house of ill-repute. Her wicked stepmother is the Madame. Her evil stepsisters, Anastasia and Drucilda, are co-workers. The glass slipper comes into the story in a new and clever way.
The writing is very nice, if a bit verbose. The author uses words in a masterful and poetic way. This gives the work a classic, timeless feel. The author weaves a dark and magical mood throughout the tale. Sensory details drew me in to the story.
Cinders contains some nods to the bloody events in the classic Grimm tale. I assumed that the main character’s nickname would be Cinders, but it was Rella. Where does ‘Cinders’ come into play? This is explained later in the story.
I was not sure what to expect when I read this story. I was a little shocked at some of the more graphic details, which were unexpected. I have read erotica, but not often. When I came across the first sexual event I thought, “Oh, that’s naughty. I didn’t know it was going to be this type of story.” These scenes are tastefully written with an artistic flair. The torture scene did make me feel uncomfortable, as I am sure was the intention. The sex scene did not do much for me; I did not feel that it added to the story.
Short stories can explore a theme or a feeling more so than develop a character. This is the case here, as the plot drives the characters instead of vice versa. The actions Rella chose were not consistent from the first half of the story to the second. She was depicted as very feisty and defiant at the beginning of the story. This made it difficult to believe that she would make some of the choices that she did later in the story, even with the ultimatums given by Stepmother.
The author was trying to fit his story within the confines of original Cinderella tale like Drucilda trying to fit her big foot into the little glass slipper. I felt that certain events should have had more conflict. The plot went from point A to point B too easily. If this were a longer story, I would have had more of a problem with this issue.
A theme that the author explores is keeping hope in a world of darkness. Rella deals with the cold, dark truths of the world such as oppression and dark sexual desires. Will she let it change her or will she retain hope for the good in the world? I feel that the story was successful in conveying this theme, although there was much more darkness than hope expressed in the events. Thematically the story was well done.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed reading this 30 page story from start to finish. The author was successful in creating a consistent mood and evoking an emotional reaction. The ending had emotional resonance but did not hit the mark with me on a logical level. The sequence of events was tenuous and Rella’s actions felt uneven at times. These issues are not a huge deal since this is a short story. If you are looking for a sensual re-imagining of the classic Cinderella tale, then this short story would be a good choice.
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