Author: Michelle Davidson Argyle
Release date: November 1, 2012
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Rhemalda
What happened after Cinderella married her prince? How did the evil sorceress in Sleeping Beauty turn evil in the first place? Discover these stories and a world filled with magic, forbidden love, elves, sprites, dragons, and the most powerful creatures of all— the fairies —in Bonded, a collection of three fairy tale inspired novellas.
CINDERS: A Cinderella sequel. Money can’t buy love, but magic isn’t a sure bet either. Cinderella, now officially a princess, finds royal life is not what she once dreamed. When a mysterious elf from her past stirs up long-suppressed passion, Cinderella begins to wonder if there really is love beneath the spell that captured her husband’s heart. But undoing magic can be harder than casting the initial spell, and the results are even less predictable.
THIRDS: A retelling of the Grimm’s fairy tale, One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes. Issina is surrounded by magic, yet none of it belongs to her. Despised and abused by her mother and sisters, she finds comfort when she meets the beautiful elves living in the nearby woods. The elves want to help her discover her own magic, but it’s not the kind of power she hoped for, and she learns there is more to magic than getting what you want.
SCALES: A Sleeping Beauty prequel. The sun never sets in the realm of the fairies. When the young fairy Serina looks into her sister’s eyes, she sees darkness for the first time. After her mother is murdered, Serina defies fairy law to follow her sister to the human realm. There she discovers the strength of a bond, the weight of a promise, and the darkness in her own heart.
I don't know that I've read any short story collection (if that's what you could call this) that I've loved as much as Bonded. Yes, the description basically tells you it's going to be continuations or retellings of stories you're already familiar with (or maybe not, in the case of Thirds) but I was completely taken aback by the strings connecting the three stories. That is what made them so special. They all take place within the same realm and build off of one another, bringing you in a full circle that is so satisfying and heart-breaking.
The first story, Cinders, was previously published, but I had never read it. I was quickly drawn into Cinderella's plight; she doesn't know if the prince loves her for herself or simply because of the spell, she is having dreams of stranger she thought was long gone, and there is unrest in her country. Here we are first introduced to the threads of story that continue through the other two stories that makes this book so good, but Cinders also stands alone as a fantastic story, one that I'd love without the other two stories in the book (though the addition of the other two just make this one better!)
Following Cinders is Thirds, a retelling of One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes, a Grimm fairy tale I had never heard of. It took me a little bit to get used to the idea of people with one or three eyes being beautiful, but Issina is another fantastic protagonist who struggles with things she can't find a way to change, her lack of magic, the treatment at the hands of her sisters and mother. When she finds her way into a magic she never dreamed of she struggles with the realization she will never become what she wanted, but could be even better.
I think my favorite story was Scales, though. This is the story that connects all of the dots from the other two and really dives deep into the magic that surrounds the other stories. Serina's story is also the one I found to be most resonant. She is a fairy, the most powerful of magical beings, and should be perfectly happy. But she struggles with secrets her sister has entrusted to her and with the knowledge that things are not as they probably should be. The unfailing love Serina displays is honestly just moving. She's resented her sister since her birth for her perfection, yet she loves her so deeply that she's willing to risk her way of life, safety, and anything else to help her. The ending of Serina's story is one so heartbreaking, I just didn't know what to do with myself. I adored it, though.
While wonderful stories on their own, Cinders, Thirds, and Scales are a near perfect collection. The themes of bonding and self-sacrificing love run throughout and make the reading experience all the better for it. I honestly don't know if I can come up with words that work well enough to explain how perfectly done this book is. Just read it and you'll understand!
Risk a paper cut? YESSSSSSS. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DOOO.