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Bound    by Donna Jo Napoli order for
by Donna Jo Napoli
Order:  USA  Can
Pulse, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In her Postscript, Donna Jo Napoli tells readers that 'Cinderella stories can be found in many cultures, among the earliest of which are the Chinese versions.' She bases Bound on traditional Chinese tales, setting her version in the Ming period.

Xing Xing's parents are dead and she lives with Stepmother and her half sister Wei Ping in a cave community. She does all the chores and is addressed as Lazy One by her father's wife. She delights in a carp, a 'white fish with red fins and golden eyes' whose pond she visits at every opportunity, and which she comes to believe embodies her dead mother's spirit.

What makes this version of the Cinderella story different from the one we are used to is the ancient Chinese setting and the fact that Xing Xing cares for Wei Ping, who suffers terribly after her mother insists on binding her feet to increase her chance for a good marriage. Also there's no fairy godmother, but rather Xing Xing eventually discovers a legacy from her own mother.

Stepmother sends Xing Xing on a dangerous journey to seek medical help for her sister. She aids a wandering doctor, who is accused of being a charlatan. He gives her an ointment and she returns to cure Wei Ping, just before the annual cave festival ... which Xing Xing secretly attends and where she loses a shoe when she flees. And, of course, she meets her prince.

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