Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review: Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

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.

Though it seems like it is, and the narrator begins the story that way, I don’t think it’s fair to call Cinder and Ella, by Melissa Lemon, a retelling of the Cinderella story. Sure, there is a prince, and a party, and a missing father, and horrible sisters, and Cinder; but this story isn’t really about any of these things, it’s really about Ella and the legend of the trees.

Cinder and Ella follow the two sisters as they try to navigate life in their drama-filled household. Their father has disappeared and is assumed to be dead after speaking with the evil prince. Their mother sits in a corner all day, spinning at a wheel to make a living. Their older sister thinks her job is to primp and preen herself, while making demands of her mother for the best and newest clothing and accessories. Their youngest sister cries and generally behaves like a brat. Ella - forgotten by her mother, who merges her and Cinder’s name together, referring to Cinder as Cinderella - is sullen and dissatisfied with her family’s situation and holds fast to the hope that her father still lives.

Cinder takes up employment at the castle, working as a servant while Ella runs away from home, distressed that she’s left to carry out the desires of her demanding sisters. As Cinder works her way to the top, Ella find a new place to call home and all seems well until an unsuspecting knight starts out on a quest to find the sister that Cinder keeps crying out for in her sleep. The prince takes notice of the knights quest and the story begins to develop as the reader and knight try to figure out what the prince wants and how Ella will escape his dark plans.

Along the way we are introduced to the legend of the trees; each life is tied to a tree and as long as the person lives to take care of it, so does the tree. I felt that if the story was centered more around this legend and in developing the story behind it, instead of trying to be a retelling of an old fairy tale, then the narrative would have left the reader with a better impression.

The narrative was written in the third person, in a storytelling style, which feels as though you’re being told a fairy tale, but also lacks structure in the plot. It wasn’t very descriptive and so the setting and characters felt very two-dimensional. It also felt a little forced, especially since it had to live up to being a Cinderella story with a twist. I am convinced that it would have done better as a story about a girl named Ella, her dysfunctional family and the legend of the trees; instead there was a lot of untapped potential and I think anyone looking for another Cinderella story might not enjoy this particular version.
[review of egalley from NetGalley]


  1. This looks really intriguing. I like the idea of a Cinderella story that does not simply rehash the classic fairy tale, but goes in a different direction entirely. Great review!

  2. If you read it, I'd love to hear what you thought about it.