Friday, June 16, 2006

Ella Enchanted

Gail Carson Levine
Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

The story of Cinderella has been told time and again through every form of media. Levine's story puts a new twist upon the old; instead of cheerfully doing everything she is told, Ella is not happy at all. But she still does everything she is told to, because she can't help it. She was blessed at birth by a well-meaning fairy to be obedient, and she has to do anything she is told to.

Her mother knows, and is careful to only phrase things as requests, but when she dies, and Ella's father remarries, her stepsisters quickly discover her secret and torment her. What makes it worse is that Ella and the young prince of the country are falling in love, and Ella knows that her curse could only be a liability to the kingdom. Yet Ella's every effort to end the enchantment backfires, and she is left in the clutches of her money-greedy stepmother...

Gail Carson Levine's books are justifiably popular with teenaged girls, as they are honest and unflinching about the internal struggles that any girl has to deal with (even when they are externalized into fantastic settings.) They can easily be read and enjoyed by adults as well - at least, adults who are not afraid to admit that they like fairy tales from time to time.


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