Genre: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Fairytale Publication.Date November 8th 2011 Pages: 208 Published By: Bonneville Books (Cedar Fort) Website Cinder and Ella Cinder and Ella - Goodreads My review copy: netGalley Where to get: Barnes and Noble | Amazon
After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget.(goodreads.com)
Please note: Quotes are from an ARC and will be verified against a published copy.
Tanner: "I think that I might kiss you to keep your lips busy from something other than insulting me."
Ella: "If you think you can do it without getting lost."
"Shut-up, you fool! I will not listen to your snide remarks any longer. I will stop crying as soon as you can learn to keep your mouth shut for more than a few seconds at a time."
Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon was a big surprise! When I started reading this book I expected yet another re-telling of the classic fairytale. You know the one with evil stepmother and stepsisters, handsome prince-charming, glass slippers, pumpkin turning into a beautiful coach, ball at the palace and a girl trying to escape the life of abuse and servitude. This book, however, was nothing like the original story. As a matter of fact, it was so different from the classic Cinderella fairytale that if not for the title, I never would have connected these two stories.
Let’s talk about the plot, shall we?
Cinder and Ella, together with their parents and two sisters, lived in a small cottage on the side of a steep mountain. For a time, the family lived a happy and peaceful life. They all loved and respected each other. The sisters grew in joy and their days were filled with happiness. Their lives were absolutely perfect, and they never foresaw the dark days ahead of them.
One night Prince Monticello came knocking on their door. He didn’t come in search of a bride. Nor did he want to invite the ladies to a ball. What he wanted was to gain supporters of his treasonous intentions. He spoke of the injustice and lunacy of the king. Most of his words, though, were pure deception. Unfortunately, both Weston and Adela of Willow Top were trusting people. They believed in the prince’s good intentions and they fell for his lies.
After the prince’s visit the family of Willow Top started to fall apart. The father, bewitched by a dark, invisible spell, eventually started to lose his mind. The prince’s words poisoned his thoughts and he became bitter and gloom. He started to neglect both his blacksmith business and his family, until one day he disappeared without a trace.
The sisters started to mistreat each other and often fought over silly things. Devastated by the disappearance of her husband, the mother was no longer capable of taking care of her daughters. She became disconnected from the reality and spent her days at the spinning wheel.
Cinder, the kindest of all daughters, ends up having to care for her whole family. Treated more like a servant than a family member, she now has to look after her sisters, Katrina and Beatrice. Just like Cinderella in the original fairytale, Cinder is in charge of all the chores in and around the house, working from early mornings to late evenings.
The tough family situation is not everything she will have to deal with, though. Both Cinder and her sister, Ella, will have to face a huge danger. The evil prince is out there to get them, and he is charming and deceitful. Will the sisters be able to recognize the danger in time? Or will the evil triumph this time?
I really enjoyed reading this novel. The writing is simplistic, yet very captivating. The book is slightly more than 200 pages, which makes it a quick read. The plot is fast moving and you don’t really get those slower moments, when you feel like you can cast the book aside for a while. It’s the kind of book you can easily devour in one sitting. I found myself really engrossed in the storyline and wanting to find out what will happen next and how the whole thing will end.
My only complaint about this book would be the nonsensical or absent motives for many characters’ actions. The prince is evil, dark and devious, but we never really learn what caused him to be like that. I mean, he comes from a good, loving family. The king and queen seem to be perfectly reasonable people who care for their son. There was no wicked witch to cast a spell on him and he didn’t fall on his head when he was a child. There just doesn’t seem to be any logical explanation for his evilness. Same goes for the father and the king and queen. I just didn’t understand the motives behind their decisions. I do, however, believe that this is just how the traditional folktales are and that’s the beauty of the genre. It’s meant to be simple. And you’re not supposed to question the motives. We’re talking about a story, which is written in a way that preserves the tone of a classic old fairy tale. The guy is evil because he likes it this way. Period.
I highly recommend this book for a beach read. It might be slightly darker than the original, but it’s not heavy or depressing at all. If you’re looking for a quick read to pass the time, Cinder and Ella may just be the novel for you.
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