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Sarah Pinborough
Gollancz, 217 pages

Sarah Pinborough
Sarah Pinborough's short stories have appeared in several anthologies and she has a horror film currently in development and another original screenplay under option. She has branched out into television writing and has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has an original series in development. She was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, "The Language of Dying" was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

Sarah Pinborough Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Charm Charm is a small book where the talented Sarah Pinborough retells the story of Cinderella in a surprising and puzzling way, disrupting the clichés of the original story, especially the Disney version so rooted in our memory.

First of all the main characters are quite changed. Cinderella is not the humble, innocent girl mistreated by her bad stepmother and stepsisters but a determined, ambitious young woman whose aim is to become the bride of a beautiful, wealthy Prince by using the magic powers of a mysterious "good fairy."

The stepmother and the sisters are self-centered enough but not so cruel as we would expect and the Prince appears to be in love only when Cinderella wears the famous shoes, otherwise he seems a bit distant and disenchanted, although too weak to cancel the wedding. As a matter of fact he has a secret that Cinderella will finally discover and that, much to my dismay, links the story to a different fairy tale, whose characters turn out to take part also in the present novellette.

Pinborough knows how to write well and how to grip the reader by skillfully reshuffling characters and plots, but somehow the final part of the story remains rather unconvincing and forced, just a smart fictional game created to disorient the reader. In addition, the sexual component repeatedly introduced in the story (especially Cinderella's erotic compulsion) sounds unnecessary and, all in all, rather annoying.

Thus the book, although entertaining and enjoyable enough, remains an effective but sterile showcase of the narrative ability of a fine contemporary author of dark fiction.

Copyright © 2013 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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