Book: Ella Enchanted, Gail Garson Levine
Publisher: Collins Publishers
Release Date: January 1st, 1997
Rating: 5 stars
I adore fairytales. Not just because you know they’re going to end happily ever after; but because they give you a break from reality to enter a world completely unlike your own, where magical creatures exist and anything can happen. I also love Cinderella, she’s my favourite fairytale story heroine, and I’ve read/seen multiple Cinderella retellings and loved them all. I’m delighted to say that this book was no exception.
It tells the story of Ella, a daughter of a rich merchant who was given a wicked curse at birth by her fairy godmother: to be obedient. This means that everything Ella is told, she must do. Whether this is just to help with the cleaning or to end a beloved friendship, Ella must always obey or she suffers from stomach pains, shortness of breath, etc. You’d think this would make a girl meek and docile, when she does whatever you want, right? No!
Ella is the opposite. Instead of meek and docile, we’re given a spunky, intelligent, funny girl who uses the curse to make her more rebellious. When her father asks her to come closer, she just takes one step and there, she has obeyed. She always made me smile and I couldn’t get enough of her witty dialogue. She starts out with a happy childhood: a mother who loves her and a cook who turns out to be fairy and treats her like a daughter. However, once Ella’s mother dies, her life takes a turn for the worst. Her mostly-absent father marries a horrible gold-digging woman with two equally horrible daughters. When one of her stepsisters, Hattie, discovers Ella’s curse, she makes Ella’s life even more miserable, forcing Ella to be a servant in her own home while her father’s away.
So Ella sets out to find the fairy that set her curse and ask her to reverse it. And what starts out as a very simple journey is suddenly fraught with adventure. She meets ogres and elves, goes to a giant’s wedding and falls for a handsome prince in her journey for freedom.
I loved Char, and fell in love with him just as much as Ella. This wasn’t like the Disney Cinderella where it was love at first sight. While they start out as friends, there was this spark between them and I was itching to ignite it! They were so cute together, and there was great playful banter between them. However Ella was afraid to admit her feelings to him as she feared her curse would put Char’s life in constant danger and she loved him too much to give him that kind of life. It was heartbreaking to read and yet I found it impossible to look away.
This has all the elements a good fairytale needs: nice fantasy elements that are not overdone or unorthodox, a strong, intelligent, witty protagonist that will do whatever it takes to break her curse, deliciously evil stepsisters and a yummy, tasteful, charming prince. It will draw you in and immerse you in a wonderful tale of a beloved story.
I should also point out that this is one instance where the book is miles better than the movie. The only things the two have in common are the names and the curse.