Review: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Title: Ella Enchanted
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: fairy tale retelling, middle grade, fantasy
Series: N/A
Pages: 232
Published: 1997
Source: purchased
Rating: 5/5 all the stars always

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.

Gail Carson Levine's examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.

A childhood favorite that I still enjoy reading to this day. This is a lovely, delightful and most of all fun read. I have probably read this book more than any other in my life and it never fails to make me smile and fall in love with its characters. Carson Levine has many talents but her storytelling is flawless and her plotting and characterization are equally impressive.

Ella is spirited, charming and genuinely funny. Her family and the outline of Ella's life is what one would expect from a Cinderella retelling, but Carson Levine recreates and reinvents the beloved fairytale without being boring or repetitive. Her world is creative, unique, and utterly charming. Char is the perfect prince but still doesn't overshadow or swoop in to save the day. Gail Carson Levine wrote a feminist, original take on the Cinderella story and makes it all her own in doing so.

I recommend it to anyone who enjoys clever writing from a deft author who never misplaces a word in her story. This is the book that taught me how to ship, that taught me about OTPs and book crushes. It also features great female friendships, clever storytelling, and a favorite story. Not to miss for old fans or new.


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