by Bettie Sharpe, fantasy (2008)
Lulu, $7.64, ISBN N/A

Some would have it that this story begins with a virtuous virgin, a young woman of honesty and integrity sucker punched by cruel fortune and forced to sleep among the cinders while her moral inferiors lived the life which was meant to be hers. Bullshit.

This is no fairytale. The real story doesn't even start with me; it starts with the Prince. The tales have him faceless and nameless, a passionless plywood man meant to represent everything a good girl is supposed to want. Nothing could be further from the truth.

An erotic take on the Cinderella fairy tale, Ember tells the story of - who else? - Ember who is a witch that knows plenty of spells for all sorts of occasion, but she still falls nonetheless under the spell of Prince Adrian Juste's charms. This is no Ever After, let me make this clear - Ember is no sweet ingenue who spends her time befriending old people and happy kids. She is... well, let me say that if you have to read this story yourself to see how Ms Sharpe has turned the Cinderella fable upside down. I don't think I know enough pretty words to describe how well Ms Sharpe has done her job here, heh.

The prose is top notch, a perfect balance between poetry and crisp cynical barbs. The pacing falters a little towards the end when the author attempts to speed things up only to make things feel a little too rushed for my liking, but on the whole Ember is a gorgeous one-of-its-kind effort that I enjoy reading tremendously from start to finish.

Rating: 91

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