My rating: 4 of 5 stars
We are all more or less familiar with the age old story of Cinderella and her wicked stepsisters. As little girls the Cinderella story was the basis for all our dreams of the future and I will admit that even now I swoon for any story where a poor helpless girl meets a prince on a white horse who sweeps her off her feet (whether literally or hypothetically).
That being said when I picked up the story of Cinder & Ella I was expecting more of the same fairytale fluff. I was therefore presently surprised when I found not another stereotypical interpretation of the age old story, but a fresh and interesting new take on an old favourite.
In keeping with my usual style for reviews and considering this is a pre-release review, I will not give anything away insofar as the plot of the story is concerned. The Goodreads blurp reads as follows: 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. I will however go a little further and say that Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget. Cinder and Ella are (unexpectedly) two individuals who live with their mother and two sisters. Whilst their family had been a happy one before, this all changed when the Prince of their fair land visited their house one day and seemingly poisoned the minds of their parents in such a way as to change them forever. Soon after their father goes missing and their mother, seemingly torn with grief and still influenced by the Prince’s “poison” does nothing more than spin and weave. As a result their family soon becomes stunningly disfunctional, with their little sister entirely dependant on the caretaking of the rest of the family and their other sister vain and impossibly indulgent. Both Cinder and Ella however seem destined for more and they soon break the mould of what is expected of them, to face several daring and even scary adventures.
WHAT I LIKED
As I do not frequently read (or like) retellings I did not expect to enjoy Cinder & Ella as much as I did. The story is dark and compelling and extremely interesting. Ms Lemon used really only the basic underlying pieces of the classic Cinderella story to weave a fairy tale that keeps you interested and guessing at every page. I really enjoyed the fact that the story, despite being slightly mediocre and dark, draws you into the world Cinder and Ella whilst the Prince clearly has their world in his grip. Ms Lemon is great at setting the scene and atmosphere of this world in describing the events in a slightly negative and dark way. In contrast the light points in Ella’s adventure, like meeting her Knight, are described in a light and cheerful fashion. I believe it takes great courage for an author to set a book in a bleak setting and I believe Ms Lemon’s risk has been wildly succesful. It is clear that the book has been written with much emotion and thought and this mysterious and sinister aspect just made me enjoy the book so much more. Although I might be reading more into it than what was actually intended, the King’s interaction for me translates to and can be likened to the roll of God in religion. Whilst being aware of and watching the strife in his Kingdom he allows his subjects to make their own choices and face their own challenges and only interferes once it seems that through outside influence they are not allowed to succeed. This is essentially the pro’s and con’s of having free choice, as I see it. This theme resonated with me, whether or not it was intentional. In addition there were a few interesting lessons which could be learned from the story of Cinder and Ella and believe many readers will relate to the underlying themes in this book! It was a story that I found pleasantly unexpected and thoroughly enjoyed.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Whilst I appreciate much of the writing style may have been scene setting, as I have discussed herein above, some of the writing in the story seemed a bit incoherent. Although this did not detract from my enjoyment of the book it was apparant to me throughout the story as I came to certain portions of the book and felt that I had missed something that went before.
SO WHAT’S THE VERDICT
I must say that I think as a retelling of an age old story, this book was a resounding success. I enjoyed the fact that the story was not simply a different retelling or a remake but used the bare necessaties of the story to tell a wholly unique and fresh tale. Two very definite two thumbs up from me! I hope that all of you will soon be picking up a copy of this book, which I believe can already be pre-ordered from Amazon.com.
This book is not part of series but I am confident that we shall see many more great writes from Melissa Lemon. I for one am looking forward to picking up more of her stories! For those of you who would like to follow her writing career, here are some helpful links to start you off: