Hardcover: 273 Pages
Publication: November 1, 2011 by Bonneville Books
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.
Told in true fairytale fashion, Cinder and Ella is set in a fantastical land under the peaceful reign of a kind king and queen. However, as is bound to happen in all fairytales, darkness strikes in the form of the king and queen’s only son, whose wicked heart urges him to seek power. He has only one fear, the daughter of Weston of Willow Tops.
The third out of four daughters of the aforementioned Weston, Ella is a strong-willed with a courageous heart that hasn’t diminished any since she was a nine-year-old girl and recognized Monticello for the evil man that he is. While the story gives us the perspectives of both girls (and that of Sir Tanner), I like Ella much more. She is my favorite of the four sisters. Cinder is too benevolent and trusting while Katrina and Beatrice are brats for the most part, with Beatrice magically turning back into a naïve eleven-year-old girl at the end of the novel.
This is a fairytale story, albeit a darker one, so I can’t say that it isn’t entirely unexpected that everyone’s good and bad qualities are exaggerated. Katrina and Beatrice are detestable. Cinder is too nice. The bad guys are very bad. Tanner is a huge klutz and yet a very (too) honorable knight. The king and queen are kind and generous, the kind of people you expect to be always fair.
I do wish that there were more backstory, as it seems as though many of the characters act without motives. I want to know where Prince Monticello got his dark powers and why he wants to take over the kingdom other than for the very obvious fact that he’s evil. I want to know how the king and queen can sit on their thrones, watching their people suffer under the prince. If the king hopes that his son will reform, shouldn’t he try some intervention to reform him? Nevertheless, this is a fairytale retelling, and fairy tales don’t need to make sense, do they? The beauty behind fairy tales is that they cause us to question so many things and learn from them.
If you like fairytale retellings, you’ll enjoy Melissa Lemon’s take on the Cinderella story. Be warned, however, that it is a quick read with no big plot twists or exploration of human character. It is told plain and simple. Still, it does raise good discussions questions, which are provided in the back of the book, and would make a great book club reading for tweens and perhaps even older elementary school students.
An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes