Summary: Reserved yet resilient, Ella Blakeley lives with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, without hope of escape—until the day Prince Kenton announces a ball that changes everything. Even without mice, magic, or fairy godmothers, Ella might discover a life that’s better than she ever dreamed. This intricately woven twist on Cinderella is an enchanting book you won’t be able to put down. (Summary and image from goodreads.com. I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)
Review: I have to apologize. I was supposed to publish this review a few weeks ago, but due to shipping circumstances, I didn't receive the book in time. Once it was in my hands, I have to admit I had a poor attitude about it. That never turns out well. The last book I had to rush to review, well, it turned into a mudslinging war with the author that spanned numerous social media sites!
However, even going into this book with a completely sour attitude couldn't stop me from loving it. It's not perfect, there are too many adjectives for my taste, a few of the villains are too perfectly villainous that it makes their existence a little difficult to swallow, and the prince didn't really have a lot of depth to him. With that out of the way, let's get to the nitty-gritty.
We all know the story of Cinderella, and so many of its iterations. But what if the shoe fits someone else, too? What would Ella do?
Peaslee has taken an amazing and enduring fairy tale and injected it with reality. Ella, our main character, takes an immense amount of pride in caring for her family home as well as she can. She sacrifices to keep her stepmother (who may be the most evil iteration I've ever encountered) and her vapid stepsisters alive. She is resourceful, kind, friendly (and she actually has human friends in the story! That always bothered me in other versions.), but she's real. She has a temper. She has fears. She doesn't love her stepfamily or her treatment, but she does worry about their well-being. She's part of the community, who don't exactly know what's going on, but they do what they can.
I really don't want to give too much away. There was a level of redemption not only for Ella but for her stepmother that brought tears to my eyes. Their coming to an understanding and forgiveness was beautifully written and created a depth to the story I hadn't expected. Furthermore, her interactions with the prince were exactly how it should be -- I don't know why no one had ever had this ending before. It was so perfect.
I know I'm one who loves to give books for gifts at every opportunity. I have five nieces I wish I could give my copy to -- this is perfect for those dreamy, innocent girls on your list!
Rating: Four and a half stars
For the sensitive reader: There's an unwelcome kiss scene and the character who instigates it is just a slimy character in general. But he's a minor one.