Review: Cinderella's Dress by Shonna Slayton

Cinderella's Dress by Shonna Slayton
Published: June 3rd 2014 by Entangled Teen
Pages: 340

Being a teenager during World War II is tough. Finding out you're the next Keeper of the real Cinderella's dress is event tougher.

Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she's working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella's dress, life gets complicated.

Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it's too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.
"That shoe was brand-new!" Kate felt her eyes tear up. The shoes weren't even hers-she hadn't earned them. She blinked rapidly. With made-up eyes, she had to be careful, or all that mascara would run down her face."
Thank you Entangled Teen for providing me with an advanced reading copy of review.

I am being absolutely honest here when I say that I wanted Cinderella's Dress to turn out differently. It's not like I had high expectations for it. It was just the premise of this book that made me want to read it, despite all the mixed reviews. I can't believe that the book I read is the same one with the synopsis above. I was all in for a Cinderella retelling set during World War II. But honestly, none of those were very clear. I'm disappointed to add yet again another novel to the famous list of: a good premise, but a bad execution.

The first thing I noticed about Cinderella's Dress, was how long it actually took me to get through the entire thing. It has been a while, since I can't even remember when I started it. The book didn't have that many pages, but I never had any interest to continue. There was literally nothing to hold on to and because of that, way too easy to put down. To be honest, there were several moments when I felt the urge to stop reading and call it a DNF. Nothing happened besides the boring everyday life of an American girl writing letters and creating window displays.

The mystery that Slayton was trying to build up throughout the book did nothing for me, because there was little to none. The plot lines that were supposed to do the job and build up anticipation and secrecy, did nothing. Instead of being woven neatly together, they're more like loose strings that don't connect in any way. The promise fairy tale aspect of the book was also nowhere to be found. It was only the prologue that held a bit of that. It's not because Cinderella's dress was involved that it suddenly turns the story into a retelling. When it comes to plot twist, the only surprise I got was how disappointed I ended up being.

It's known from the first line of the synopsis already that the story takes place during World War II. If it weren't for the many references in this book to the War and the pointless letters, I wouldn't have noticed. While reading, there wasn't a moment when I believed I was reading a story set in in that time period. In my opinion Slayton clearly failed in creating an appropriate atmosphere. Even though the centre of the war was in Europe, I didn't think the American citizens didn't notice what was going on. The book portrays as if that was the case. There was way too little influence of the war on Kate's situation, because she lived her life as if she didn't even live in the forties. The book could have easily been set during the sixties or even modern times, because it wouldn't have made much difference. Research is the main key word when it comes to writing a historical novel, and I didn't feel like Slayton did enough research to completely capture the vibe of the war.

I can't even bring myself to talk about the flat and undeveloped characters. None of them develop throughout the entire novel and remain just the same as they were before. In normal cases it's usual for people to change, even just a little bit. Yet when it's during the Second World War and spread over a few years, it amazes me how none of them did. Kate in particular was one dull and flat character. Instead of making things happen, things happened to Kate. She was passive in so many ways and did absolutely nothing for the story but writing letters and complaining. When I started thinking about her, she reminded me more of the forties white girl than anyone else. Like the plot, this girl had interesting stuff about her, such as being a feminist and having a unique passion, that supposedly would make her interesting. Nothing of that happened. Setting that aside, you would at least expect me to have compassion for the characters and their loved ones overseas. I don't. I really don't.

The clichéd romance in this book left me with only a few words in mind: well, that escalated quickly. In the blink of an eye, they went from being strangers to opponents to friends to opponents to lovers, and all of that not even in entire first half of the novel. The development of their relationship suddenly went to insulting to writing letters, and the romance just jumped out of the blue. I didn't care for the rest of their relationship. It felt like yet again one of those forced romances, and I wasn't a fan.

What could have been a great retelling with an extraordinary setting compared to the story, ended up being a slow-paced book with a plot that seemed to head to nowhere and boring characters that did nothing good.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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