Charm by Sarah Pinborough

Just finished reading Charm by Sarah Pinborough and before I go any further must say what a fantastic little book.  I just loved it.  I don’t know where SP has been hiding but now I’ve found her out I’m going to be backtracking eagerly through any past work of hers.  Also many, many thanks to the wonderful Jenny at Wondrous Reads for putting me onto both these lovely books – you are the beeswax.  I read Poison a few months ago which was also an excellent book and my review is here.

So, Charmed is a reworking of a classic fairytale, with a dark twist.  Cinderella is the central character to this story just as Snow White took centre stage in Poison.  The beauty, for me, of both of these stories is that SP has created this fantastic world in which the fairy tales we grew up with and loved, all live.  There are no real boundaries in that the stories simply tumble into each others territories and in that respect I strongly suggest you read Poison first.  You could certainly pick up Charmed as a standalone but (1) why on earth would you want to do that when Poison is so good; and (2) you would miss all the extra nuances included within this story.  Trust me and just read both okay.

The real magic to these novels is the quality of the stories.  Everyone loved to be read a fairytale when they were little (didn’t they) and these magical books conjure to life the old stories that we love thereby evoking fond memories.  Just look at the gorgeous books themselves and then imagine sitting in the biggest, comfiest chair, in front of a warm fire, on a dark night, reading this story.  The writing is so reminiscent that the story simply comes to life and almost drags you back to your childhood when all of a sudden, as you’re reading the most delicious prose, you have a ‘hello’ moment and have to back track.  Yes, don’t be fooled and certainly don’t try reading these to your children of an evening.  These are no Disney characters.  The characters that we grew to love are cast here in a different light.  Vanity prevails not to mention selfishness, willfullness and a whole other wealth of character traces that we didn’t expect to see.  On top of that we have what one of my blogger friends likes to describe as ‘sexy times’ (you know who you are) so, as I mentioned no reading to the kids at bedtime please.  In that respect, the Hunter, who appears from the first novel is frankly a bit of a hottie and oh my giddy aunt but can SP write a steamy scene!  Dont’ get me wrong, this isn’t some sort of erotica, so I really don’t want to give the wrong impression, but this author can seriously give you the hots for her characters when she puts her mind to it – I kid you not.

Again, as with Poison, the main character is different from what we expect, her redeeming quality being the fact that she is at least aware that she’s not always acting in the best way possible  We have the typical Cinders cast including Buttons and even the mouse makes a proper appearance. The story is a great little mystery with the underlying theme of ‘be careful what you wish for’.  Of course Cinderella madly wants to marry her Prince Charming but is he really all that she thinks and will she be sorry to win her heart’s desire.  Well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

I heartily recommend this.  The writing is beautiful.  It fairly rattles along.  The twistedness is just as good as ever and there’s this whole intriguing plot.  Also, SP manages to make her females ‘real world’.  They’re no fragile, or shrinking violet beauties – they have appetites – and they know how to satisfy them.  A beautiful book and a beautiful story and, yet again, what an ending!

I’m submitting this for Carl, at Stainless Steel Dropping’s RIP event (details here) as it’s a dark little twist on the Cinderella tale.

The next sentence is a bit of a take on something I’m stealing unashamedly, and adapting slighly, from the Little Red Reviewer -(namely if you like …., ……, or ……. then you’ll like …..)  Therefore, if you like Neil Gaiman: you’ll love Sarah Pinborough (frankly I can’t think of any greater compliment because I adore Gaiman).

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23 Responses to “Charm by Sarah Pinborough”

  1. brideofthebookgod

    Ooh, I have this but not read it (or Poison) yet;but what I have read (but not yet reviewed for RIP) is Mayhem, which I thought was great. You should give that one a try Lynn.

    • lynnsbooks

      Thank you so much – and so the obsession begins!
      I will definitely read that – it looks great. I hope you read Poison and Charm (not Charmed! Doh!!!)
      Lynn 😀

  2. Lisa (@EffingRainbow)

    This is on my TBR! I’ve read Poison and really liked it, and I’m almost finished with Mayhem, which I have put down only reluctantly since picking it up. 😀 It’ll be my next review, also for RIP VIII.

    • lynnsbooks

      I love these books. I really hope she’s going to do the full set of characters, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood. So Many to choose from. I can’t wait to read Mayhem it looks really good! Will look forward to your review.
      Lynn 😀

      • brideofthebookgod

        Pretty sure that Beauty is next, I think it comes out next week.

      • lynnsbooks

        Okay, I’m going to have to get that! Although maybe I should wait a couple of months – that way not as long a wait between the next? Whatever, I have no patience, who am I kidding!
        Lynn 😀

      • lynnsbooks

        Excellent – I’m going to get the full set of these – the books alone are so lovely and the content doesn’t disappoint!
        Lynn 😀

  3. mesetageresenfranglais

    I was just about to say that fairy tale for grown up is now linked in my mind to Gaiman! I’ll look for this book in the bookshops!

    • lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy it! Let me know when you post your review.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Cath

    I’m not mad about retold fairy tales but your review makes me think I should give these a go. They would be perfect for next year’s Once Upon a Time Chellenge.

    • lynnsbooks

      They would be perfect for OUaT – I’ve enjoyed the first two more than most of the retellings I’ve read before. They have a twist and I like that each story seems to link back to the whole ‘fairy land’ that SP has created.
      Lynn 😀

  5. jdbookworm

    Very glad you enjoyed it!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yes, it was great and I think Beauty is due out any time – the book looks lovely (yet again). I wonder how many are going to be in this series – hope she does Beauty and the Beast??
      Lynn 😀

  6. jenclair

    I like retold fairy tales, and this one sounds like a winner!

    • lynnsbooks

      It really is. I think I like this better than any other retellings I’ve read before. Don’t know how many the series will run to but the first two have been excellence and Beauty (as in Sleeping) is out in the next few days!
      Lynn 😀

  7. Delia (Postcards from Asia)

    Well, I love Gaiman’s short stories but comparing him with Sarah Pinborough?! No way is S.P. even in the same category. But then we’re entitled to our own opinions. 😉

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – Gaiman is right up there on a pedestal for me also. And I should probably read more of SP’s work first but saying that I’ve read four of her books (no, actually, five now) and really enjoyed them all – plus they’ve all been different. The three fairy tales. A book called The Language of Dying which is basically about how one young woman copes with her father’s dying – very dark as you can imagine given the subject matter. And then a book called Mayhem which is about a serial killer out and about terrorising the streets of London. I have liked them all to be honest and they’re all different themes.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Waffle, waffle, waffle… | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] Pinsborough’s fairy tale retellings (Poison, Beauty, Charm) – these are three great books, all from the same world and interconnected and just […]

  9. To adapt or not to adapt! | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] Beauty/Poison/Charm by Sarah Pinborough – mashed up and twisted retold fairy tales […]

  10. Short and Sweet | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Poison/Charm/Beauty by Sarah Pinborough […]

  11. TTT: Top 10 favourite novellas/short stories | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Poison/Charm/Beauty by Sarah Pinsborough – three books – each one connected, that include a bunch of fairy tales for grown ups.  Wonderful reading. […]

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