I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from NetGalley. The book releases November 8, 2011.
From Benneville Books (Cedar Fort, Inc.):
After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget.
This book is a slow starter. So much so that I put the book down for a week or so before going back to finish it. This is definitely not your childhood version of Cinderella. There are a few parallels drawn between the tales, but Cinder and Ella in this book bear very little resemblance to the Disney or Grimm version. For one thing, this tale is much darker. The Prince may be handsome, but he is not good. In fact, he is quite evil (and not in a good evil Jace or Patch way either). This Prince uses his dark magic to bring his subjects under his control, convincing them that there is no hope, no reason to go on and this darkness is spreading throughout the Kingdom. Cinder and Ella are sisters who live a miserable life in which their father became influenced by the darkness, and one day, just wandered off. Cinder and Ella then take over the household as their mother has a mental breakdown and their two sisters become spoiled brats.
One day, Cinder applies for a job in the King’s castle as a servant to help provide for the family. With her new job, she will have to reside in the castle most of the week and will return home on her one day off. She leaves the care of the family to Ella. Unfortunately, Ella has little patience for the tantrums and antics of her family and she too, wanders off. Ella finds a new place with a family far away, helping to take care of the family's children. This family is warm, bright and loving. Exactly as Ella wishes her family was. Ella finds a sense of peace and happiness, until one day a Knight and two of the Prince’s aids come to return Ella to the Castle.
The Knight worked in the Castle and each night during his rounds, he would hear Cinder crying and talking in her sleep from the hallway. One day the Knight, Tanner, approaches Cinder to ask her about the sister she speaks of during her sleep. Cinder confides in the knight that her sister has disappeared and she fears that Ella may be in danger. Tanner, being a brave and honorable Knight, seeks permission from the Castle advisors to go on a quest to find Ella. The advisors go to the Prince, who agrees for his own nefarious reasons and insists that Tanner take along two of his aids, the lecherous William and the stoic Flescher. Tanner does not trust the Prince or his aids, but must take them on the quest.
During the journey to return Ella to the Castle, Tanner begins to care for Ella, and in true fashion, then becomes a clumsy fool. Tanner soon discovers that the Prince may want to harm Ella and after an encounter with the drunken William, Tanner and Ella break from the aids and devise a plan to find out what the Prince wants without turning Ella over to him. The rest of the book covers the attempts of the good Knight and the sisters to thwart the evil plans of the Prince and the darkness that spreads throughout the Kingdom. I won’t get all spoilery, because truly, this book does not follow the fairytale path. You get the main points though, love, danger, intrigue, magic and a very stubborn horse.
As I said, it takes a while to get into the meat of this book. I kept going because I had never read a book told in the manner of a fairytale; therefore was intrigued and curious to find out where Ms. Lemon was going with the plot. Ms. Lemon kept me guessing until the end. I give the author credit, she kept to the fairytale style of writing and storytelling. She wove the different plot lines and points of view flawlessly. I am giving the book 3 stars. If you enjoy fairytales and want to see a different and darker version of Cinderella, I recommend you pick up Cinder And Ella in November.