It s been so many years since I ve read anything by Donna Jo Napoli I think than a decade so I was pleased to find that she still held up after all this time, especially since I stopped reading her because I seem to have OD d and found her books not doing it for me the same way they used to.It s clear from Napoli s retellings that she has the utmost respect for her source material, and I admire that She doesn t try too hard to find a gimmick or twist to make her retellings sensational instead, she simply sinks deeply and richly into the source material, particularly the psychology of the characters and the seemingly bizarre choices they make.This is the first time I ve read a Cinderella retelling that harkens back to some of the earliest, Chinese source materials, and I really liked the change of setting The story is still there the stepmother, a half sister, an orphaned and disadvantaged daughter but there s a subtly different light cast upon it At first glance this book seems to be less dark than some of Napoli s other work, but the scenes with the raccoon kittens and the ultimate fate of Xing Xing s fish prove that Napoli still does not shy away from the disturbing aspects of fairy tales Napoli s characters are not two dimensional Xing Xing s sister, who suffers the pain of bound feet, is a sympathetic character that Xing Xing genuinely pities and cares for The stepmother, while dismissive and sometimes cruel to Xing Xing, is also made believable for the pressure she feels to marry off her daughter so that the family can survive in a culture where three women alone are worth very little Her cruelty is interspersed with moments of kindness, so that one does not feel the sort of simmering hatred of her that the stepmother usually inspires It would have been soul crushing to live under her roof, just the same.There is a lot of buildup, so that the ending the ball, the search for the owner of the shoe, etc seems rushed I never really bought the character of the prince, nor did I feel totally confident Xing Xing was heading off to a happily ever after But since the romance aspect is probably the least alluring to me in the Cinderella story, it didn t bother me too much to have it downplayed here. It s funny how opinions change as the years pass A book you so loved from a few years ago could turn out to be rather disappointing in the future And unfortunately with this book, that s exactly what happened.Donna Jo Napoli is a master at fairy tale retellings I ate them up when I was an early teen, and I still enjoy most of her work today Her earlier works are the ones I like best my favorites being Zel and Beast, which are masterful works However, this retelling of Cinderella wasn t one of her better ones Rather, it limped along with no clear objective in sight. 3.5 starsFinished in a few hours A unique spin on the Cinderella myth. This was a retelling of Cinderella, set in ancient Chinese times.The book was super short but tremendously fascinating Once again the author s attention to historical facts and roots shows The book was over too quickly for me to find anything dissatisfactory However, I did think the condition in which Xing Xing found her Stepmother and sister bizarre Was it because they were so dependant on her they couldn t be bothered to clean up after themselves or were they afraid of devils The most significant part of the story, though, which also brilliantly connects it to Cinderella, is the Chinese Foot binding custom If you ve never heard of this shit, please google this exact same phrase MY GOD It s part of the same sexist bullshit you can find in any culture So, at one point in time, the Chinese considered the mark of a perfect wife, her feet Specifically, feet that could fit these weird slippers which were clearly different from the anatomy of a normal foot.Women used to bind their baby daughters feet from as early as four years, I think and the feet were kept bound for years and years until they whole foot bent and molded into the desired shapeThe book is certainly interesting and only 200 pages so I recommend it. 3.5This was the first thing I read by Napoli, and though it started strong and had a great sense of place, in some respects it was a letdown Not completely, and I would still recommend it, butI ll just get right into it I thought it had a very strong start The Cinderella aspects were clear and the sense of place was beautiful It was reinforced with the language, too, so that it didn t seem like a Western character and sensibilities dropped in an Eastern setting Everything matched and felt lovingly researched and crafted I really enjoyed that There was a beautiful gentleness to it all Xing Xing and her journey were enjoyable and rootforable It is a very different take on Cinderella than most of us are used to, but it hits the same notes and explores the well known version in interesting ways.For example, view spoiler I loved the use that Napoli made of some of the darker elements of the tale that have been largely lost to Disney time The mutilation of the old tale where the Stepmother cuts off one daughters toes and the other s heels in an attempt to make the shoes fit is made use of in a genius way, really, tying it in with traditional foot binding and the horror and desperation of the practice And then, to add in the element of Xing Xing s belief about her fish mother and the end result of that storylineIt was a very smart use of both the traditional tale and the history and culture of the setting hide spoiler I thought this was a cute and original retelling of the Cinderella story It wasn t super special, but it was enjoyable just the same I loved the ancient China twist to the story It was a quick story and worth a read 3.5 stars Bound is the story of fourteen year old Xing Xing, who lives with her evil stepmother and needy half sister in a cave Both of her parents are deceased and these two women are all the family she has left Her half sister, Wei Ping, has bound feet and has high hopes for getting married Her deceitful step mom also wants Wei Ping to get married to a decent man, and completely ignores the hopes and dreams of Xing Xing In this retelling of a classic tale Xing Xing may be able to prove that she has what it takes to be the one that succeeds, instead of her undeserving family Bound was a lukewarm tale It was interesting, but not intriguing enough to really pull me into the story I liked all the metaphors and similes, and I also enjoyed the historical aspect of the book Now I ve learned a few facts about China, because my prior knowledge was basically nothing besides what I ve learned in school Also, the descriptions of bound feet and the horrible deed the stepmother commits were really gruesome I m not sure how young children could handle reading those things, unless they just totally flew over their heads.The characters weren t very developed it was definitely just a Cinderella retelling I wish the author twisted the story a little , because almost all of the characters fit the perfect stereotype that was laid out in the Cinderella story Another thing that irked me was how the girl on the cover of the book looked so young She looks like a seven year old, not a fourteen year old That confused me at the beginning of the book An okay read overall. A retelling of a VERY old Chinese variant of the Cinderella tale Ye Xian wiki articleI really enjoyed this variant of the story and I thought Naploi did a wonderful job of working in some traditional Chinese beliefs that weren t explicitly part of the Ye Xian tale or at least the versions of Ye Xian that I ve found so far don t explicitly link the beliefs, though they might well have been implicitly linked by the people of that era I really liked how Napoli pulled in the belief of ancestor veneration with the Koi, and the foot binding in regards to the tiny slipper.An admittedly fallible Wiki search seems to say that foot binding didn t become popularized until around a century after Ye Xian was first recorded I guess it just goes to show how long small feet have been admired Compared to routine foot binding, suddenly Aschenputtel s stepmother cutting off the heel and toes of her daughters doesn t seem quite so gruesome At least those injuries can heal eventually This is either a high 3 star book or a low 4 star I ll assign it 3 for now because, although I liked it, it was ultimately rather lightweight. YOUNG XING XING IS BOUND Bound To Her Father S Second Wife And Daughter After Xing Xing S Father Has Passed Away Bound To A Life Of Servitude As A Young Girl In Ancient China, Where The Life Of A Woman Is Valued Less Than That Of Livestock Bound To Be Alone And Unmarried, With No Parents To Arrange For A Suitable Husband Dubbed Lazy One By Her Stepmother, Xing Xing Spends Her Days Taking Care Of Her Half Sister, Wei Ping, Who Cannot Walk Because Of Her Foot Bindings, The Painful But Compulsory Tradition For Girls Who Are Fit To Be Married Even So, Xing Xing Is Content, For Now, To Practice Her Gift For Poetry And Calligraphy, To Tend To The Mysterious But Beautiful Carp In Her Garden, And To Dream Of A Life Unbound By The Laws Of Family And SocietyBut All Of This Is About To Change As The Time For The Village S Annual Festival Draws Near, And Stepmother, Who Has Spent Nearly All Of The Family S Money, Grows Desperate To Find A Husband For Wei Ping Xing Xing Soon Realizes That This Greed And Desperation May Threaten Not Only Her Memories Of The Past, But Also Her Dreams For The FutureIn This Searing Story, Donna Jo Napoli, Acclaimed Author Of Beast And Breath, Delves Into The Roots Of The Cinderella Myth And Unearths A Tale As Powerful As It Is Familiar My high school girls love this book because it retells Cinderella in a different culture and time period, but it s cheesy and stereotyped at best Most of the novel chronicles the girl s miserable life with her stepmother, and the Cinderella part doesn t really come into play until the very end The title itself serves as a metaphor for the bound life that the main character leads, which parallels the symbol of a girl s bound feet in ancient China This book does give complex personalities to its characters than the usual fairytale does the stepmother and stepsister are not all evil, and the reader is inclined to pity them rather than hate them wholeheartedly Overall, however, I m sure there are better retellings of this classic fairytale.