Hosted by Alison at The Cheap Reader
ELLA ENCHANTED by GAIL CARSON LEVINE
For my first Cinderella retelling, I chose ELLA ENCHANTED. I was going to pick up the book, but then I found the audiobook at my library and thought that would be even better! It was definitely a really quick listen at 5 discs (I think it ran close to 6 hours?) and the narrator did a great job, although I’m not sure the voice was quite accurate… I was kind of confused whether the book (based on content and the narrator’s voice) should have been more MG or more YA. Ella is 15 in the book and we deal with topics like relationsihps and marriage, but at the same time, it has more of a middle grade feel. Maybe it falls somewhere in between the two and either age range will work. ANYWAY…
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.com)
HOW WAS IT AS A RETELLING?
I thought this was a fantastic retelling! The best part of ELLA ENCHANTED for me was how different it was and involved an original story. We don’t even see the Cinderella parallels (besides the stepmother/stepsisers) until closer to the end of the book. The first half focuses more on Ella and her curse as well as her evolving friendship with Prince Char. Ella goes on an epic quest to find a way to lift or reverse her curse, so as we get to know Ella, the focus is more on her story and creating a unique character instead of us picturing her as Cinderella.
At first I was a little worried that it wasn’t really a Cinderella retelling since it actually took so long for the book to get to things like balls and carriages, but eventually we did get there and it was so nicely done. The retelling aspect was neatly woven into Ella’s story, and as I’ve found from other retellings I’ve started, I think it’s important to have an original story to start as a foundation. Without it, I find myself drifting and getting bored really quickly. The retellings that I’ve been interested in have followed the original fairy tale of Cinderella, but definitely have their own unique aspects to draw the reader in.