I never liked Cinderella as a kid. It seemed like whenever she got into trouble, her best plan was to burst into tears and wait for someone to come along and help her. I also wondered, even if she couldn’t leave her stepmother’s house, could she at least tell the awful woman to go make her own damn breakfast once in a while? As far as little cynical-as-hell Madeline was concerned, Cinderella was a spineless twinkie who was painfully useless.
Obviously, I am not the only girl who had a problem with the fairy tale, and fortunately, Gail Carson Levine decided to do something about it. Her Cinderella (Ella of Frell) is smart, stubborn, and pretty damn feisty. Her only problem is that when she was born, a well-meaning fairy gave her the gift of obedience. Ella has to obey any direct order given to her, no matter what. So, naturally, she sets out to find the fairy, lift the curse, get rid of her stepmother and stepsisters, and maybe even end up with Prince Char. (Char, short for Charmont, geddit?) A lovely story, and much better than anything Disney could come up with.
Verdict: five out of five stars