Finally a book that turns princesses and fairytales on their head. The Ravenous Gown by Steffani Raff is a treat to read. The book features 15 tales about real beauty and features intelligent, feisty and charming female heroines.

Written in fairy tale prose, the stories may be short but are crammed with clever insights about beauty, self-belief and societal expectations.

There’s echoes of classic fairytales such as Cinderella but Raff’s clever writing dispels notions of happy ever afters and knights in shining armour swooping in to save damsels in distress. These heroines can take care of themselves.

This excerpt from the story ‘The Reluctant Knight’ shows the gender bias so apparent in our society.

“You’re a princess. Princesses aren’t brave or smart – they’re pretty.” The brothers dismissed her.

The Princess’s face turned red in her passion. “What is the use of being pretty if you can’t do anything?!”

“Princesses don’t need to do anything, darling,” said her father…

The Princess spent her days watching her father and brothers from afar, wishing they would listen to her. She was smart and brave… and angry. Why should being a girl make you any less important?

In our increasingly superficial society, this book serves as a timely reminder to girls and women that you are more than what you look like and what you wear.

These are powerful messages that need to be shared. Even though my daugher is too young to read this herself, I’ve been reading selected stories to her. This enables us to have a dialogue of what it means to be female, beautiful and smart.

The Ravenouse Gown  is published by Exisle Publishing. RRP $19.99. Copies available from http://www.exislepublishing.com.au and bookshops.

Disclosure: The Mummy Project received a review copy.