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Glass Slippers

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The second book in the Sisters Ever After series of fairy-tale retellings from the point of view of the siblings in the background, this is the thrilling story of Cinderella's never-before-mentioned third "evil" stepsister, Tirza.

Meet Cinderella’s third “wicked” stepsister, Tirza. For years, Tirza has lived with the shame of what her family did to Cinderella. Against everyone’s advice, Cinderella—now Queen Ella—took a chance on young Tirza. She gave Tirza a home in the castle instead of banishing her. The queen told everyone Tirza was good and kind, not cruel like her older sisters.

But now Queen Ella’s famous glass slippers are missing, and there’s only one suspect. . . .

Tirza may have tried them on . . . but she didn’t steal them. Now she must find the true thief before she loses her royal home. But as Tirza gets closer to the truth, she finds herself getting closer to something else: her sisters, who might not be quite as evil as Cinderella claims.

ISBN-13: 9780593178904

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Publication Date: 04-18-2023

Pages: 272

Product Dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)

Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

Series: Sisters Ever After

Leah Cypess is the author of Thornwood as well as four YA novels: Mistwood, Nightspell, Death Sworn, and Death Marked. Both Mistwood and Death Sworn were on the Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens list, and Death Sworn was a Teen Vogue "Most Exciting YA Book" of the year. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Read an Excerpt

1

My original plan for that day was excellent. It doesn’t mean much now, but for the record, I want you to know how well things could have gone.

It was the morning of the annual parade. I planned to spend the day in the nursery playing with the royal princes. Queen Ella’s children, Prince Baro and Prince Elrin, were also not allowed to go to the parade. They had begged me to come stay with them, and I had promised.

I would never break a promise to the princes. Even that time when I told Baro that if he went to sleep, I would sing him the entire ballad of Sleeping Beauty while standing on my head. I hadn’t thought he would remember, but he had, and I’d done it. Gilma, their nursemaid, had caught me and told everyone, which had gone over really well with the court.

But the princes were the only people in the castle who trusted me, and I would never do anything to betray that trust.

So even when I got close enough to the nursery to hear the wailing, I kept walking. I slowed down a little bit, I admit. I might have winced. But I didn’t stop.

“I want to go to the parade!” That was Baro, who, at five years old, had perfected the art of the tantrum. “It’s not fair! Everyone in the whole world gets to do what they want except me!”

A thud, a crash, and another set of wails—these coming from one-­year-­old Elrin. I quickened my step, which made me trip on a loose section of the rug. I caught myself against the wall and kept going.

“I’m a prince! That means I can do whatever I want!”

I broke into a jog and wrenched the nursery door open, just in time to see Baro dump a bottle of purple glitter over his little brother’s head.

“Baro!” Gilma cried. “Oh, don’t do that!”

Baro grabbed a jar of glue.

“No, no, no.” Gilma wrung her hands. “That’s not how a prince should behave!”

Elrin yowled, grabbed a chunk of his older brother’s hair, and yanked. Baro shrieked.

“Stop fighting!” Gilma wailed. “What would your subjects think?”

I strode into the room, grabbed Elrin’s hand, and disentangled it from Baro’s hair. Then I held Elrin out of his brother’s reach. Glitter rained down from his clothes, covering me with purple sparkles.

“I have a great idea,” I said. “Once you stop screaming, I’ll tell you all about it.”

While I was waiting Baro out, I calmed Elrin down by giving him a sweet pop. He nuzzled into my shoulder and sucked happily, drizzling sticky saliva down the side of my neck.

“He shouldn’t be having sweets, Tirza,” Gilma said.

I gave her a look. She gave me a look right back, then held a hand out to Baro. “Do you want to help me clean up? I’ll let you hold the dustpan.”

Baro grabbed my skirt and buried his face in it. ­Gilma’s mouth twisted. She went and got a broom and dustpan from the corner.

I thought about offering to help. Gilma, like me, had an odd position at court: She was a village girl who had been hired long ago as a nursemaid, but she was also given gowns and her own room and allowed to attend banquets and balls when the princes were asleep. That had caused a lot of muttering at court, but eventually, everyone had concluded that it was evidence of the queen’s sweetness and good nature. After all, Queen Ella had once been a commoner, too, just like Gilma.

And like me.

So there had been a time—a brief time—when Gilma and I had been close. Cinderella had suddenly become too busy being queen to spend time with me, and Gilma had been like a replacement older sister. But she had quickly realized that it was bad enough being a commoner in fancy clothes without also having the queen’s wicked stepsister glued to her side. It hadn’t taken her long to join the noblewomen in their whispers and sneers. Then one day, when I was seven years old, she had poured green dye into my hair while two noble girls held me down. They had laughed and laughed. Even more than I remembered the humiliation of walking around with green hair, I remembered the pure delight in Gilma’s laugh.

Gilma had been banned from the ball that year, and instead was forced to spend the evening emptying all the castle chamber pots. Ever since then, she had hated me.

By the time Gilma had finished cleaning the glitter (well, most of it—there is glitter in that room to this day), Baro had calmed down. “What’s your idea?” he demanded. “Are we going to the parade?”

“Certainly not!” Gilma snapped. “Bad enough that you keep sneaking into your mother’s room. Do you know who gets in trouble when you don’t stay where you belong? I do, that’s who.”

Baro’s lower lip jutted out, and his eyes welled up with tears.

“I have something better!” I said quickly. I knelt in front of Baro—which, unfortunately, meant I put my knee down in an unnoticed patch of glitter. And this dress was almost new; the laundress was going to hate me even more than she already did. “Do you know how hot it is, standing outside in the sun to watch a parade? I would rather be here.”

Gilma snorted. “Convenient, since you’re definitely not allowed to go.”

She wasn’t wrong, but she also wasn’t helping.

“I’m sad to miss the parade too,” Gilma went on, stretching her arms above her head. “But at least I have the ball to look forward to, and that’s just three nights away. The queen gave me a new gown, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s too bad you won’t get to see it, Tirza.”

I kept my eyes on Baro, lowering my voice. “Let’s stay here and make an obstacle course.”

Tears spilled onto Baro’s chubby cheeks. “I hate obstacle courses!”

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” Baro said. “What’s an obstacle course?”

While I explained, Gilma hopped onto the window-­sill, straining to get a glimpse of the parade. Which wasn’t going to happen; the parade was on the opposite side of the castle. I chose not to explain that to her.

Half an hour later, Gilma still hadn’t caught on, but at least she stayed out of the way of our obstacle course. She kept her face pressed to the glass, contorting her body to try to see from different angles, muttering, “Why do these things never start on time?” and “Did I miss it already? It’s your fault for distracting me.”

“What,” a voice from the doorway demanded, “are you doing?”

Gilma turned so fast that she overbalanced, fell off the windowsill, and landed face-­first onto the blanket hammock that Baro had been carefully setting up for the past ten minutes. He stared at his ruined construction, let out an outraged wail, then broke down and sobbed.

Elrin, who was watching me tie ropes across the top of the cradle, blinked. His lower lip trembled.

He burst into a loud, delighted laugh.

Baro grabbed a pillow and threw it at his brother. It missed and hit me instead.

Gilma glared at me as if this were my fault.

Meanwhile, the person whose fault it actually was stood in the doorway. He crossed his arms over his chest. “I guess the question should be what were you doing?”

“It’s an obstacle course.” I went to pick up Baro, stepping over a maze of wooden blocks. “Well. It was an obstacle course.”