My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast
by Jerry Mahoney
11-year old Maddie watched with equal parts relief and horror as a plague descended upon her home. The sickness was of the love variety, and brought with it a union between her father and her sweet new stepmother, something that should have made Maddie happy. But it also brought with it the evils of Holden, the cretin that she’s now forced to call stepbrother. She can’t seem to get away from him no matter how hard she tries: he’s the same age as her and so of course they are in the same classes at school (a place where she constantly has to remind people that no, they are certainly NOT twins – they are barely even related!) and she can’t escape him when she gets home because he always seems to be lurking behind every corner, just waiting to snap an unflattering photo of her with his annoying tablet so he can post it to Instagram and earn her yet another obnoxious nickname (as if “Morning Maddie” wasn’t enough; a name honoring the horrific state of her hair that morning he’d gotten a prime shot of her). He deletes all of her favorite shows off the DVR and swipes all the good snacks in the pantry. He inserts himself into her class projects with a maniacal and malicious glee, garnering her unwanted attentions from the other kids in class and ruining her certain moments of glory. He’s a menace.
But that’s not even the worst of it. Not too long ago, he attempted to ruin her favorite fairy tale of all time – the beloved Cinderella. The classic tale of slave-to-the-cinders transforming into a beautiful princess via a delightful fairy godmother was a story Maddie coveted above all others. She dreamed of one day becoming a princess herself, because if it could happen to the unfortunate Cinderella, then certainly she too could be pulled from the toils of a disastrous childhood and raised up to the station of most beautiful lady in the land – right?
Because of Holden, the story had almost been ruined forever. After helplessly watching the pages of the book turn into a twisted shadow of the fairy tale it used to be, they’d been curiously transported into the land of Cinderella, her wicked stepsisters, and awfully terrible stepmother. Instead of enjoying the whimsical fairy tale in all its magical glory, Maddie had instead been forced to spend her time fixing the story so it would end with a happily ever after. And now, Holden has done it again – only this time, to Beauty and the Beast!
On Halloween night Maddie and Holden are lifted by twinkling fairy dust and plunged into a tablet storybook, arriving in rustic countryside of France where everyone (of course) speaks perfect English. Maddie watches in pure delight as her body lengthens into a statuesque form fit for a runway model, her hair grows and begins to shine like the happiest of spring mornings, and her skin glows as radiantly as the moon. She looks better than any Halloween costume could ever begin to match; she is more perfect than the most blessed red rose . . . she is Belle!
Luckily for Maddie, Holden is no where to be seen; he’s been spirited away to whatever miserable existence lawyers inhabit, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. But on the cusp of joining her sweetheart Beast in everlasting nuptials, Maddie discovers something quite unsettling: her husband-to-be is about to be put on trial for her kidnapping and could be beheaded for his crimes against her! But don’t the villagers understand the story? The Beast was kind and became gentle over the time they spent together, he gained the trust and devotion of the girl who longed for something more than this provincial life, and in the end they were supposed to have their happily ever after as two beautiful human beings living in a shiny castle! With portly servants and chipped teacups!
Maddie must work against her beauty and all the unnecessary rewards it brings with it and instead, convince the villagers to accept people for who they are on the inside. After all, isn’t all real beauty something to be found within? And running along in the background like a computer virus, she must trust her rotten stepbrother to do his own duty and help win the trial of the century – one that will secure the Beast’s freedom and earn the perfect ending for the most beautiful of fairy tales!
My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast is the second installment in the Rotten Stepbrother series, each of which carry the theme of a different fairy tale. Penned by father and husband Jerry Mahoney, the series is full of appropriate humor and wily stepbrotherian exploits, all true to the character of the precocious age group portrayed. Diverse and full of imagination, young readers will find themselves transported into worlds they only thought they knew, and will likely find a character (or two) along with the way with which they can completely commiserate with. Whether it’s Maddie fretting over her first blemish or Holden fighting back the terror of the prospect of a first kiss, there is truly something for everyone in these easy-to-read mid-grade books. There are enough redeeming moments to make Holden just as likable and understood as Maddie, making this series perfect for both young ladies and gentlemen.
Giving My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast 5 out of 5 stars, I recommend this series to readers ages 10+. Anyone who even remotely likes fairytales will revel in the clever retellings and those skeptics who wonder how Belle didn’t realize she was being kidnapped in the first place or how Prince Charming was intent upon using a glass slipper to find Cinderella will enjoy finding an ally in the rotten stepbrother intent upon ruining things for his sister. Every teacher should have these charming books in their classroom.
Readers will also enjoy the continuation of the series (as follows):