“At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: ‘Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.’ When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.” (from Goodreads)
I really enjoyed this fresh retelling of Cinderella by Gail Carson Levine! I loved Mandy and Ella–they were so well written and fantastic; but boy! did I hate that stepfamily. (More evidence of good writing.) 😉 I actually found myself tense and wondering what was going to happen even though this is a familiar story! The romance was really sweet (Char, Char, Char!); and I want a gnome toddler now. 😉 Just a note there is some fairytale magic and a general theme that may give young readers a bad view of obedience.
Best quote: SPOILER ALERT! Char was too precious to hurt, too precious to lose, too precious to betray, too precious to marry, too precious to kill, too precious to obey.
Altogether, I found this to be a delightful Cinderella retelling for older readers. 😉