Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ella Enchanted

Level: Youth
Genre: Fantasy>Historical Fantasy>Fairy Tale
Obtained: Gift from my 6th grade English teacher
Reviewed by: Maggie W.

About the Book:
The novel is sort of a stand alone but also part of a loose series. Levine wrote this one as a retelling of the classic Cinderella tale and has since it's release gone on to do the same with others, such as Snow White and Rose Red. Rather than sticking to the theme of writing the usual princess story aimed at younger girls (the book is aimed towards readers 10-12 years old) where the princess is basically useless and waits around to be rescued, Levine writes what I like to refer to as self-rescuing princess.

"If someone told me to hop on one foot for a day and a half, I’d have to do it. And hopping on one foot wasn’t the worst order I could be given. If you commanded me to cut off my own head, I’d have to do it.
I was in danger at every moment." - Introduction from Ella Enchanted

Rating: 9/10
I first read this novel when I was in 6th grade because it was recommended to me by my English teacher, and have reread it at least once a year since then. There aren't a lot of books that I do this with but I still consider this book one of my all time favorites.

As I wrote before the story is loosely based on the story of Cinderella, or in the case of this story, just Ella. When the story opens, Ella, who has just been born, is visited by a fairy named Lucinda who decides to bestow her with a gift, common enough in Frell, the world where the story is set. When baby Ella starts to cry and her mother has trouble quieting her, the gift Lucinda decides on is obedience. Not so bad by itself but the way the 'gift' or rather curse works is that any direct order Ella is given she must obey, no matter now much she tries to resist.

Luckily Ella's mother manages to keep the curse secret from her opportunistic father. Sadly while Ella is still very young, she and her mother both come down with a mysterious illness. While Ella is able to recover fairly easily her mother isn't so lucky and dies soon after. After the funeral Ella meets prince Char and he becomes one of her dearest friends.

Ella's grief is made worse by the fact that her father, whose failing trade business has put them terribly in debt, remarries a horrible woman with two daughters Ella's age, Hattie and Olive. Shortly after joining their families all three daughters are sent away to a finishing school, where after discovering Ella must follow orders, abuses her horribly with it.

When it becomes too much, Ella decides the only thing she can do is find Lucinda and get her to remove her gift. In her journey through Frell on her search Ella meets many of the beings that live there, both good and evil, even managing to talk her way out of group of ogres' plans to eat her.

Without giving the ending away for those who would want to read it, Ella ends up finding something she didn't realize she was looking for in the first place when she set out on her journey. Being based on Cinderella, of course there's a fairy godmother, a royal ball to find a wife for the prince, and a happily ever after, but some how this book manages to keep with the fell of the original story, while also being something wonderful and original. In working as a bookseller at a major book store, I manage to recommend this book to at least one person a week.

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