As soon as I hit publish on the post about Cinderella’s Dress, I jumped right on into Cinderella’s Shoes (provided to me from Netgalley), the second (and final?) book in the series. Before I go any further, I want to say that if you have not read the first, stop right now. Don’t go any further. There is no way for me to get into this book without spoiling the first.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Kate Allen, officially Keeper of the Wardrobe, has left the comfort of home in New York City for the war ravaged shores of Eastern Europe, in search of the lost shoes of Cinderella. Along with her boyfriend, Johnny, and her new friend, Nessa, Kate is determined to find those shoes because she believes they will lead her to her father, who was presumed dead by the US Military.
This book, while still good, had a very different feel to it than the first one did. That one was a coming of age story with a sweet romance thrown in for good measure, and yes, those both continue in Cinderella’s Shoes, but this is more of an adventure than that one. Kate is very rarely in her comfort zone (i.e. there are no windows for her to dress) and seeing her flounder and try to figure out who she should trust (if anyone) was interesting. There are quite a few new characters in this book and the only person on her trip whose motives she completely knew was Johnny and even that relationship was still very new for her. She didn’t have her mother or Josie to lean on and she quickly came to realize that on her own she was just as lost as her father was.
Portions of this book reminded me of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Foer’s book was all about finding a lost loved one and going on a journey that is meant to lead to that person. Unlike Foer, Slayton is able to keep her narrative from being overwhelmingly depressing because it is in its very essence a fairly tale in which anything is possible. Foer was firmly grounded in reality and as readers we knew that there was no way for his main character to have his happy ending, no matter what the reverse flip book at the end might lead you to believe. (That flip book was very controversial and having seen it, I understand why so many people hated it.) Her writing, though not as experimentive as Foer’s, is preferable (at least to this reader) and contains its own form of magic.
Love or hate this book, there is one thing for certain. Ms. Slayton does her research and seamlessly blends real Post-War Europe with fantasy elements. There were many details included in the narrative that after all my years studying history in school of which I still was not aware. For instance, Lidka, one of the new characters and Kate’s guide through Eastern Europe, explains that even after the war many people were still not able to go back to their homes because other people were already living in them. Honestly, this is something I should have figured out on my own, considering how things were (and in many cases still are) in the former Soviet satellite states. (One of my professors in school focused her research on Georgia and lived in Tbilisi for a time. She liked to talk about meeting a man, whose legitimate job was to steal houses and give them to other people. That type of thing doesn’t shoot up over night and I should have known that this would have happened following the worst war in modern history.) What I liked about this was that these details were woven into the story in such a way that the reader, while noticing them, might not feel as if they are learning because it does not read like a history book. You would think this isn’t that big of a deal, but really it is. I’ve read countless book, written by authors who have been around much longer than Ms. Slayton, that failed because there were points that felt lifted right out of a Wikipedia page.
Cinderella’s Shoes is available for Pre-Order and will be released on October 6th.