Author: Gail Carson Levine Series: Ella Enchanted #1 Genre: Fantasy Release Date: September 1, 1998 Book Length: 232 pages Publisher: Scholastic Books Review: 5/5
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.
Okay this was such a cute fantasy book! First off, I didn’t know that the movie was based on a book, and second, it had completely flown over my head until I picked up the book and actually thought about it that Ella Enchanted is a retelling of Cinderella (whoops!) – and honestly, I found this a lot more mystical and fun than Cinderella is.
Not to try and compare the book and the movie too much, but in the movie, Ella is played by Anne Hathaway who is definitely way older than the Ella portrayed in the book; it surprised me when I heard the narrator’s voice on the audiobook because it was very high pitched like that of a young child. However, once that initial shock wore off, I found the narration in general to be incredible! And although it doesn’t really have much to do with the actual writing, having such good, expressive narration really aided in how much I enjoyed the story. The story is told in Ella’s perspective, and I found her to be so adorable; it actually pained and infuriated me to the point where I sometimes had to pause the book whenever people took advantage of her obedience, especially Hattie and Olive. At the beginning of the book, Ella meets Prince Char. You do get the sense that she has a small crush on him, but I liked that that plot point was not the main focus of the book until close to the end. Additionally, I thought that all of the creatures: elves, ogres, fairies were written perfectly – I especially liked how they even had their own languages; it tied the book together so well.
Above all, what makes this book so good to me is that it transported me to an enchanted land, and even though I thought I’d grown out of fairy tales long ago, it was just so much fun to experience this in my mind; it made me feel like a child again. So if this book taught me anything, it’s that you are never too old for fairy tales; in fact, the older you get, the more magical it is to get to experience that feeling all over again when you thought you never would. 😊