Letters to Zell by Camille Griep
Review by Lauren
Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Everything is going according to story for CeCi (Cinderella), Bianca (Snow White), and Rory (Sleeping Beauty)—until the day that Zell (Rapunzel) decides to leave Grimmland and pursue her life. Now, Zell’s best friends are left to wonder whether their own passions are worth risking their predetermined “happily ever afters,” regardless of the consequences. CeCi wonders whether she should become a professional chef, sharp-tongued and quick-witted Bianca wants to escape an engagement to her platonic friend, and Rory will do anything to make her boorish husband love her. But as Bianca’s wedding approaches, can they escape their fates—and is there enough wine in all of the Realm to help them?
Review: I immediately loved the idea of this book when I heard about it, because it's all about the grown up versions of those fairy tale princesses we all think we know and love. Since the book is called Letters to Zell, we don't get anything from Zell (or Rapunzel) beyond what the girls write in their own letters. Therefore, the main characters are essentially CeCi (Cinderella), Bianca (Snow White) and Rory (Sleeping Beauty). Letters to Zell starts when Zell moves away with her husband and children and the girls are left behind, with only a note to tell them where she went. This is when they all start writing Zell to tell her about the goings-on in Grimmland, as well as everything they are going through and experiencing!
CeCi has a great husband, but she doesn't want to have children. Edmund is okay with that, but they create a fake nursery as they are afraid to tell his parents. When the girls take a trip Outside, CeCi starts going to a cooking school as she's always loved it. Her stepmother and stepsisters always made her cook for them, but it's the one chore she really adored and she wants to do it for a living.
As for Bianca, she's probably the funniest princess. She's set to marry William, and while they are best friends, neither of them are in love with each other. They know they have to marry to finish out her Pages though. Each princess has Pages (like the story of their lives) to complete or things could go horribly wrong for Grimmland. It's a really interesting premise, and you'll learn more about their world when you read the book!
Finally, we have Rory who is usually a happy person and always trying to get people to see the good in life. Unfortunately, her husband Henry is not her true love. She is desperate to make the marriage work, but Henry has a wandering eye and Rory is helpless on what to do.
Each of these princesses have good and bad in their life, and we get to explore their current circumstances in Letters to Zell with firsthand accounts from them all. They all have a pretty distinct voice, and I love books told in letter format, so it was fun to see what they all had to say and how they interpreted some of the same events.
Letters to Zell does have a bit of a sad twist near the end, which I never saw coming, but things do brighten up! I think it adds a lot of depth to the story too, so it's definitely not a complaint!
Including most of the princesses in this novel, I thought this video/song, "Grown Woman" created by Todrick Hall would be the perfect choice for Letters to Zell. After all, it's all about these women being grown up and able to do what they want. Definitely a major theme in the book!