Review: Charm / Author: Sarah Pinborough / Publisher: Gollancz / Release Date: Out Now
Sarah Pinborough’s previous dark fairy tale, POISON, was always going to be a bit of tough act to follow; the remixed take on Snow White was clever, sexy and witty. CHARM follows on from the previous tale, but takes on another fairy tale princess, Cinderella. If you don’t know the story of Cinderella, we suggest that you read more, but in case you need a reminder, it’s a rags-to-riches tale about a young girl who defies a family that treats her like a slave and ends up marrying a prince. This book takes a slightly different look at the basic facts of the story; after all, many a teenager has complained that their parents treat them like slaves.
For those who missed the first book, Pinborough’s magical kingdom only bears a passing resemblance to the one they build theme parks about. Magic may be real but people still behave like people and their love, lusts and frailties are all too human and very believable. The Cinderella in this story still gets her ball, her magical coachman and a clever friend called Buttons, but depth and wit has been added to the tale. If you had ever wondered exactly what a Fairy God Mother might be up to granting wishes to weepy girls, then the revelations in CHARM may amuse you.
The other thing that has been added is sex. Not loads of it, but enough to add a sharp tone to the mix; after all, Cinderella is a story about love and attraction, and that rarely happens without a bit of passion. The book is very dark at certain key points, in scenes that may be familiar to those who know the non-Disney version of the original story. Yet again, Pinborough has delivered a fairy tale for adults; magic, wonder and passion are all here, as well as the odd hair-raising scene that will make most readers smile. CHARM works as a standalone story, but you’ll get more out of it if you’ve read Poison first.