Review: Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

 

Title: Cinder & Ella

Author: Melissa Lemon

Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.

ISBN: 978-1599559063

In Stores: November 8, 2011

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

After her 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. What Ella finds there starts a quest that will change her life and the entire kingdom. With a supernatural twist on this beloved fairytale, it’s a must read you’ll never forget.

Review:

While I usually love fairy tale adaptations, I had a hard time connecting with the characters in Cinder and Ella, and it kept me from loving this re-telling of Cinderella.  I enjoyed the framework of the story, but the bland and one-dimensional characters were difficult to relate to and made liking them a chore.  The narrative style also kept me at arm’s length, and I never felt like I ever got to know Cinder or Ella very well.

After their father is convinced by the evil prince to abandon his family and follow his persuasive path, Cinder and Ella’s family falls apart.  Their mother becomes a shell of a woman, living only to work at her spinning wheel, and their two sisters turn into self-indulgent brats.  In an effort to improve their unpleasant lives, Cinder takes a job at the castle.  It falls to Ella to take care of the family in her sister’s absence, but it seems that no one remembers her.  Miserable, she sets off to find her father and to put their lives back on track again.

While I did like the overall theme of challenging yourself to help your family, most of the book just didn’t click for me.  Cinder was naïve and foolish, and like her father, she quickly gave in to the prince’s evil influence.  Ella is the only character who had any common sense, and she was brave and intelligent to boot.  It was a shame that she was surrounded by so many flat individuals, all of whom were so overshadowed by the force of her personality that I came to dread the segments that followed a different character.  Tanner, the noble knight, was too clumsy and awkward, and he came across as a buffoon, rather than a romantic interest, whenever he was with Ella.

The prince just got on my nerves, because he had no depth.  None.  He was evil, and that’s about the extent of his character.  There was no compelling reason given for why he was so awful.  Adele, the hapless mother, suffers the same fate.  She has been turned into a mindless woman, always spinning, totally oblivious to the activities of her daughters.   Regrettably, that just didn’t work for me.

While I found some of the story elements compelling, I feel that the individual parts didn’t mesh well with the whole.  I think that younger readers will enjoy the story much more than I did.

Grade: C

Review copy provided by publisher

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