The story is historical fantasy fiction with a strong fairy tale atmosphere. The stepsisters are cast as the sympathetic main characters, with the older sister, Jane Montjoy, leading the family and focused primarily on survival.
Jane is kept busy supporting the illusions of her once-noble mother and trying to keep her younger sister in line. Her mother may claim that noble ladies don’t work, but “hobbies” like embroidery and cheesemaking are the only things keeping their family alive. Jane is a resourceful and realistic heroine, but her journey won’t be easy.
Forces outside of Jane’s control bring challenges that she cannot face alone. Her mother goes to town and comes home with a husband and his beautiful and demanding daughter.
Mysteries in the woods, the strict laws of the king, and the judgement of the refined society only make things worse. With hints of Robin Hood, the story adds twists on the traditional Cinderella story. The reader tries to guess which of the clues from the traditional fairy tale will be incorporated next, as everyone wonders about the upcoming ball at the Prince’s castle…