Author: Bridget Hodder
Expected Publication: August 23, 2016
Source: ARC via Publisher
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Cinderella thinks she must work alone to save her noble family from the ruin and disgrace her stepmother has brought to Lancastyr Manor. She has an ailing father, a sweet, innocent little stepsister and dependent servants to protect from the wicked Wilhemina--and no way to call attention to their plight unless she figures out how to attend the royal ball.But Cinderella knows nothing of the ancient pact between the House of Lancastyr and the rats who live within the walls of her ancestral home.Nor is she aware that the sleek black rat she thinks is her pet is actually the Rat Prince...and she is not alone.
The Rat Prince is a cute, well written, but by-the-numbers Cinderella retelling. There are a lot of positives to it: I like that the aristocracy seemed real and made sense (obviously Regency/Georgian inspired) and I liked that the ton remembered the family had a daughter and asked after her. In a lot of retellings, the step-mother is able to abuse Cinderella without anyone saying boo *coughEllaEnchantedcough*, which is kind of crazy in a well enough off family to know the royals. Char's a really sweet prince and, except for the flaw of him literally being a rat, I could totally see him being a MG book boyfriend. The step-sisters are given some nuance, though I do see one being re-imagined as nice but helpless a lot lately.
Truly, my issue is with the rats. Their court is really interesting and fun and reminds me of the Borrowers, but this is the story of a human woman falling in love with a rat. He's not a man turned into a rat by magic. He's not a talking rat. He's just a pet. rat. I couldn't fully get past it, and though Char is turned into a human, I was left feeling super weird about the romance, especially since it was obvious Char was in love with Cinderella when they were different species. The addition of magic is also hasty and didn't really integrate with the generally realistic setting and the ending is rushed.
When I was MG myself, I went though a serious Cinderella phase, and I think this is a perfect followup when Ella Enchanted and Just Ella are over, but it's never going to be my go-to retelling.