I will preface this review by stating that I am quite biased towards this book. I have read it I don’t know how many times and it remains the favorite on my list of books. (And I have read A LOT of books) I just recently re-read the book and felt the need to share my love with all of you.
(Also, let’s just agree that the movie by the same title just doesn’t exist because it was just that awful.)
So, Ella is a fifteen year old girl living in the land of Frell, the capitol city of Kyrria. She and her mother are very close, and she adores her cook/godmother Mandy. Ella’s father frequently travels as a merchant, and Ella is happy with her life. Well, mostly. You see, as an infant, Ella was “blessed” by a fairy with the “gift” of obedience (and yes I am gratuitously using quotes here). Now, obedience may not sound so bad you say, but think about it. Anytime anyone gives Ella a direct order, she must obey. As simple as “Sit” to as complicated as “Kill him.” She lives in fear of the types of orders she may receive, especially after her mother dies and Ella is sent off to finishing school with two odious girls her age, soon to be her stepsisters. She knows there is a way to break the curse, but she has no idea how, or if, it will ever be broken.
Ella’s world is magical, with fairies, ogres, gnomes, giants, and elves, but full of danger as well. The ogres intend to eat her and other humans, animals, elves, etc, and the fairies mean well, but cause more damage than ever intended. As Ella is good friends with the prince, she constantly worries that someone will exploit her curse to make her cause him harm.
Ella Enchanted is my favorite Cinderella story, because it maintains the same basic ideas, but adds much more depth to the story. Why does Ella obey her stepmother and stepsisters? Because she’s cursed! Also, Ella ultimately saves herself and others around her. She is quick-witted, funny, and brave. Unlike the Cinderella of Disney, Ella really doesn’t need to be saved by anyone else. Despite her circumstances, Ella is an independent woman, who can withstand almost anything.
There are so many reasons to love this book. Here are a few:
- It is a retelling of a fairy tale, which I personally love to read.
- Ella is brave, funny, and just all around awesome.
- The book makes me laugh and cry, even though I have read it so many many times by now.
- It is excellent for any age group.
- Ella goes up against ogres. (And not sweet Shrek ogres!) And wins!
- Prince Char is sweet, funny, and nowhere near as shallow as that Disney dude.
- New languages are invented to speak to ogres, elves, gnomes, and giants. (Tolkien-like anyone?)
- It is a quick read that delivers all of this and more!
Levine has written many other retellings of fairy tales, and even though they are all well-done, Ella Enchanted wins every time.
Read it. Then have your daughter, granddaughter, cousin, sister, sister-in-law, friend, and that woman down the street read it.