Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cinder and Ella, by Melissa Lemon--A Review

Cinder and Ella, by Melissa Lemon, Cedar Fort/Bonneville Books, ISBN 9781599559063, November 2011

This isn't the story of Cinderella, not even twist on the story. It is its own very neat little story, about the two sensible sisters in a very messed-up family, in a kingdom that has a very serious problem--its prince and heir to the throne.

Weston of Willow Top and his wife Adela are a loving, happy, productive couple, with four lovely young daughters: Katrina, Cinder, Ella, and Beatrice. But Weston is ensnared and lured away by the black magic of the  Prince, who is spreading the tale that the King is corrupt. When Weston vanishes and does not return, Adela sinks into grief and spends all her time spinning yarn, leaving her daughters to fend for themselves. In practice, this means that Cinder and Ella take care of everyone, Cinder with a cheerful, loving spirit, Ella with more awareness of how both she and Cinder are being exploited by their mother's self-absorption, Katrina's selfish laziness and ego, and Beatrice's exploitation of her status as "the baby."

When Cinder gets the chance to work at the kingdom castle as a servant, she jumps at it, and suddenly Ella is alone with family that barely sees her all week, except for Cinder's one day off. Ella doesn't have Cinder's endless store of patience and goodwill, and it isn't long before she leaves, and, with no real destination in mind, is fortunate enough to meet a good, decent man who wants a servant to help his wife and be company for her as his bridge-building business takes him away from home.

Cinder, bringing good work habits as well as goodwill and patience, quickly works her way up to a senior position among the servants. Ella, having much more patience and goodwill for kind-hearted, attentive people and for children who, while rambunctious, are also basically good, friendly kids, settles in to her new household, having bargained for reading lessons in lieu of part of her wages.

But Cinder has come to the attention of the prince, and her grief for her sister who has simply disappeared brings Ella to his attention also. And suddenly the two sisters are struggling for their safety, their lives, and the sanity of their parents.

This was a really enjoyable book, with Cinder, Ella, and many of the people they meet being genuinely likable, engaging characters whom, at the end of the story, you'd like to learn more about. Yes, this is a young adult novel, but it won't disappoint older readers who enjoy well-written fairy tales.

Highly recommended.

To purchase a copy of this book from Amazon, click on the cover image.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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