Set in ancient China, Bound is the story of Xing Xing, the stepdaughter of a sometimes cruel stepmother and half-sister. Called "lazy one," she tends for them but she is hardly the worst off. Instead, she gets to run errands to town, while her uglier half-sister must endure painful foot-bindings. But whether physically, emotionally, socially, or spiritually, all of them are truly bound in one way or another. That is, until the local prince announces a festival at which he will choose a bride, and Xing Xing discovers a wondrous secret left for her by her long-dead mother.
This retelling of Cinderella, in what turns out to be a more authentic source, actually works surprisingly well. So many of Napoli's books suffer from being great concepts but lousy applications. But this one works and works well. Napoli has captured a great understanding of Chinese culture and lifestyle, and meshed it to a familiar story, creating something quite original. I will continue to maintain that her stories are too dark and morbid (and full of very scary concepts) that make them a bit age-inappropriate for the middle reader audience she is shooting for, but this is a good book.