by First Mate Keira
Title: Cinder and Ella
Author: Melissa Lemon
Format: Digital ebook
Page Count: 208 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 4-7
Summary: Cinder and Ella are the two middle sisters in a family of six. The family once happy fell apart when the father left after his mind was poisoned by the Prince. Things get so bad Cinder decides to the castle for a job as a maid. She quickly rises through the ranks and gets promoted to the head of housekeeping. Ella runs away to work for a nice family, but her unexplained disappearance hurts Cinder and draws the attention of a young knight who wants to help… and then the evil Prince gets involved.
Why I started this book:
I saw it on Netgalley and it looked like an interesting fairytale retelling. I asked for a copy and received it. Spoilers ahead…
- The human/tree relationship is a very interesting concept. I wish the world building around it was more explained though. How does one find your tree for instance? Do the trees have magical properties? It would seem so as Ella’s lifts up out of the ground and goes to help her and the Prince’s is protected from many forms of destruction.
- The Prince is a well done villain, but why did he want to “experiment”? What was the point? Just to test his control and power? Why does the King not try to stop him until the end? The King even says he has more power than the Prince but he doesn’t interfere with all the evil the Prince does because “people should try to get out on their own” and “maybe the prince will change”? Really? Why doesn’t the Prince just overthrow his father? I didn’t get that either.
- The writing voice divorced me from the story. I wasn’t committed or all that involved with the characters and their stories because of how removed the narrating voice was. It reads like an old style fairytale if that makes sense. It’s meant to speak to young and old readers alike but there’s loss in translation. It really killed the story for me. It was all tell and no show.
- This new Cinderella story had potential, but to me the execution was severely lacking. I’ve already mentioned the writing voice but character development, pacing, and world building could have used more effort. How does Ella find the strength to go after the Prince? Why is Cinder important at all as a character to follow, other than her kindness and work ethic? She basically works and gets taken in by the Prince but she doesn’t help Ella go after him. The main heroine is Ella but I never once got into her head.
- The romance between Ella and the knight was weak and could have done much to draw female readers into the story, but didn’t. Why did they like each other? Their struggles to be together weren’t there. The prison time hardly counts, because getting out wasn’t about finding a way to being together. The same for Cinder and the bodyguard. He compliments her hair but why would she be interested in him?
Final Thoughts: I feel the book is more for an adult looking for an allegorical story to pass the time with and not for young readers. I can’t really picture any of them sitting down and sticking with a story like this without school and teachers involved. There are other authors with fairytale retellings that would be more appealing: Gail Carson Levine, Gregory Maquire, Robin McKinley to name a few.
Rating: 1 Treasure Chest
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