Sunday, June 13, 2010

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This book is an all-time favorite. I've read it four times, and each time it gets better and better. I love retellings of fairytales - especially when the author completely renovates the story, and the characters. Instead of being the usual Happily Ever After, this book comes down to a Happily NEVER After.

The story doesn't begin at the "beginning". The story opens and Ella Brown is already a princess in the royal palace, engaged to be married to the most beautiful man she has ever seen, Prince Charming. Ella, now Princess Cynthia Eleanora, is just entering into a world that is extremely different from her previous world. Every day activites include learning proper etiquette and embroidery with Madame Bisset, and special occasions are made of knightly sports such as jousting. But Ella soon discovers that even these things aren't done as one would expect. On top of that, she isn't allowed to do anything related to her old life. Even simple things, such as starting a fire in the fireplace, or changing her own clothes, are off limits. Frustrated, Ella resorts to finding joy in being with two people: Prince Charming, of course, and Jed, her lowly tutor. It is only then that everything starts to go terribly wrong...

This book had me from the start. The characters are vibrant, from daring Ella, to evil Madame Bisset, to handsome Charming, to kindly Jed. It is also well-written, with an easy-flowing style and quick wit. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairytale, especially one that has never been told before quite like this before.

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