Top 5 Cinderella Retellings

You guys, I really love fairy tales. I’m not necessarily one of those Disney fairy tale crazy fans, but I just love the genre in general. Give me a set of prince and princess characters, a talking pet sidekick, and a happily ever after any day.

I also really get into fairy tale adaptations and retellings. There’s something really fun about reading a reimagination of a classic story and finding ways that they parallel. I’ve seen and read all kinds of adaptations over the years – Snow White, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood – but I think most often, I’ve read Cinderella retellings, so that’s what I’ll focus on today. These are 5 of my favorite Cinderella retellings.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

This is the most recent Cinderella adaption that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. We have a science fiction fandom twist to the classic story, which parallels the film “Ever After” more so than the original tale. It’s witty and chalk full of references to bigger fandoms. The love story is a little different from a classic fairy tale and their meet cute is unique. We’ve got a fun cast of characters here for this modern take on a classic – plus it’s a quick read!

 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I couldn’t leave out my favorite of them all! I remember seeing this book around for a couple of years before actually picking it up and I’m SO glad that I did. Cinder takes us on a galactic journey with this fairy tale twist and throughout this series, we see other adaptations as well, including Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White. The connections to Cinderella are pretty prominent in this first book and it’s a gripping, hilarious story.

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

This is another modern adaptation of Cinderella, with some looser connections. Our main character lives with her stepmother and stepsister and has a fairy godmother in her abuela. This retelling focuses less on the dynamic between the main protagonist and her “Prince Charming” character and moves it more towards family and friendship. The characters are all VERY real, which is great for a fairy tale adaptation!

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Time for a classic retelling of Cinderella! You may be thinking about the movie, but I’m just going to stop you right there. Don’t even. This is a classic case of the book being significantly better than the movie. It doesn’t even come close. This author is one of my favorites when it comes to fairy tales. All the elements are there – magic, friendship, self-discovery, hope, and a happy ending. Plus, a prince. Got to have a prince! If you haven’t ever read this book, give it a go. You won’t regret it!

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Another throwback example! I remember reading this in middle school. It was one of the first fairy tale adaptations I’d read and is probably the reason I love them so much today. This book gives us a look at the aftermath of Cinderella’s class tale – post-ball and post-wedding life. The twist with this retelling is that there’s no magical anything, it’s a more realistic take. This is a more empowering tale, as Ella didn’t go to the ball in search of a prince, but of a way out of her miserable life. Definitely a different take!

What’s your favorite Cinderella retelling? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

“If you believe in yourself and have a few good friends, then you can do anything. You can be anything. So, as the saying goes: Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsGeek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Feelings: This book was perfect for a reader like me. I love all the fandoms and enjoy subtle (and also not so subtle) references to things I love. PLUS, I love a good fairy tale retelling. This one in particular was done really well. Let’s talk Cinderella first.

This story paralleled the Ever After version of the Cinderella story, more than any of the others. The character’s name is Danielle, she has one nasty sister and one that has a sympathetic side, Danielle and “the prince” have a secret kind of relationships before the “ball” scene, and so on. And I’m glad the author chose that route. In terms of making the story realistic, this was the best way to go.

For the fandom aspect – so much fun! We saw everything from Battlestar Galactica to Game of Thrones to Batman to basically any fandom you can think of. I love the way the story is centered around the (fake, for us) TV series of Starfield, and we get to learn about this show as go go along this journey with the characters. I’m glad it wasn’t focused on an existing show; it made me bond with the characters more this way.

Issues: The story arc with Brian made the story get jumbled. For a while, we kept seeing that name and knew that there was something major that happened between him and Darien. I felt anxious to know what it was! Then when we find out, it comes out in a weird way and sort of falls apart. I didn’t really see Darien learn from that experience and it didn’t develop him as a character, so it just seemed out of place.

There were some small repetitions that annoyed me, like the “holy ______ Batman” line and the references to Darien’s abs. We get it, you’re a fan. We get it, your abs are insured.

What is with GAIL? Darien goes on and on about how he trusts her and how she’s the only one from before his fame began who really knows him, but she was useless. She missed all the drama happening with him, loses his phone at a very important plot point, and is a discombobulated mess. I think Darien needs new friends.

Characters: These characters all felt so REAL. Elle isn’t a perfect protagonist. She’s certainly got some issues, but she’s a teenager and it all made sense. It made her relatable, unlike Disney’s Cinderella character. (She took too much for too long, that’s all I’m saying. Start a mouse rebellion and take that house back, queen.) I like that she finds her voice by the end and discovers what makes her happy. We all go on that journey at some point.

Darien was a bit of a different love interest character. He’s got his own thing going, sure, but he isn’t that perfect, dreamy, Sarah-Dessen-esque boy character. Like Elle, he’s imperfect and makes mistakes along the journey. He learns about trust (sort of) and taking the reigns of his own life.

This book has a great set of side characters (except for Gail). I loved Sage. At first, I thought she was going to be that grumpy character who spoils everything, but she turned out to be the exact opposite. Chloe, the evil step sister, is exactly who the plot needed her to be, and Cal was that sweet surprise in the end. The step mother never got any redemption, like some “evil” parent characters do, which is fitting with the classic fairy tale. I’m okay with her remaining a negative source in Elle’s life, rather than this huge come-to-Jesus-scene where they promise to both “try” or whatever. That isn’t how things go sometimes.

Final thoughts: Not only was it a lot of fun, it was emotional, too. I actually teared up a few times because of the way I felt for the characters and was connected to them. If you love fandoms (or even just one fandom) and/or you love fairy tale retellings, then this is the perfect book for you. I read most of it in one sitting, because I just couldn’t find a good stopping point!

Pick this up if you liked:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

Goodreads rating: 4.24/5

My rating: 4.25/5

*This book is out TODAY! I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

*This review does contain some spoilers.*

“I didn’t know what was worse: to have your shot and screw it up, or to never have had a shot in the first place.”

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Synopsis from GoodreadsWhen your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know? Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and I’ve been given a mission:

REMOVE
The Tin Woodman’s heart,

STEAL
The Scarecrow’s brain,

TAKE
The Lion’s courage,

And then—

DOROTHY MUST DIE.


Feelings: This story had a lot going for it. Spunky main character (whose name doesn’t seem to really fit her), plot twists, and some added zest to a story we thought we knew. However, a lot of that potential hit the fan early on. What was really weird, though, is that the questions I had and the plot elements that were throwing me off got somehow rationalized by the characters in the end. It’s like the author was writing and she started to see plot holes and decided that it’s easier to explain them away, rather than go back and fill them.

For a while, I wasn’t really sure what we were building up to. New realm and making new friends along the road. Scratch that. Recruited into a secret Order and learning about all of Oz’s drama. Moving on. Secretly living in the palace and waiting for a chance to strike. End of book. Mixed in with all of that were issues with her mother and the bully from her school. The pacing of the story was kind of up and down, making it hard to track what the point was. I think each piece was interesting and added value, I just wish it had been pieced together better.

Issues: My first issue is actually with the synopsis above. We don’t find out that Amy has to steal the heart, brain, and courage until the last few pages of the book. Why is that part of the synopsis for this first book??

That common YA thing where characters instantly accept change happens here in spades. New world? Cool. Learning magic? Whatever. Being forced to murder a stranger? Rolling with it. No one telling her the master plan? *shrugs*

Ugh. Instalove. Not only was it a cool learning magic and training scene that was ended by a pretty gown and a cute boy, but the cute boy is super shady. Kiss me. Don’t kiss me. Be angry at me. Now be concerned about me. I have zero interest in Nox. And the fact that Gert thought Amy would need a love connection in order to fight for them is stupid. Why couldn’t she want to fight because SHE wanted to?

The author dumbed things down for the reader sometimes. She’d make a reference, then add in its definition or explain it. It became annoying and threw off the flow of the story.

Finally, the title is Dorothy Must Die. The synopsis tells us that she has to die. Twice the story builds up to Amy being told that Dorothy needed to die. And multiple chapters end with this same “revelation” that she would have to die. We get it already.

Characters: Amy is SO not an Amy. I don’t know what that means, but all I DO know is that I’ve never read a character that seemed so disconnected from their name before. She fit the name Astrid more than Amy. At some points, she seemed to fit back about what was mysteriously expected of her and follow her own instincts, then other times she was just what the Order wanted her to be. By the end of the book, I wasn’t completely sure I knew who Amy was. Then again, I think she was struggling with her own identity.

Nox is confusing. I really didn’t care for him at all. He was too hot and cold for me. (See issues above.) And Pete? First of all…Pete?? What’s with the names in a magical realm? I was really interested in who Pete would turn out to be and honestly had no guesses, which is rare for me. Talk about a plot twist. Like a weird, confusing plot twist that’s making me reexamine my feelings.

The Order was a strange cast of characters. We had these older, more experienced witches with their own specific abilities, then these younger magical ones who we knew very little about and seemed to pop up out of nowhere. The whole ground just felt disjointed. I wish the author had explained how the magic worked a little more. That might have helped to understand this group dynamic.

 

Final thoughts: I really wanted to like this book. I’d previously almost picked it up multiple times, but decided against it for some reason. It could have been far more interesting than it was, but it wasn’t awful. I think if you’re a fan of the original story, this twist may be interesting to you. I probably won’t continue on in this series, though.

 

Goodreads rating: 3.85/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5

My rating: 3/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

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Synopsis from GoodreadsCatherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen. At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship. Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Feelings: The thing about prequels and retellings is that you know where they’re going to end up. You kind of like Cath until you remember that she’s going to end up as the bad guy in Alice’s story. I thought Meyer did a great job of weaving in some references to Alice’s world here and there. We met some familiar characters, as well as some magical items with a twist.

Issues: I didn’t understand Jack’s role in the story. He was a super childish dude who clearly (but maybe not?) hated Cath. Was it love-hate? Or just straight up hate? I don’t know and he really doesn’t serve a purpose. It seemed like he would a couple of times, but then nothing would come of it. Not a big issue for me, since he’s a nobody character…but I just felt like something was important about him and I was wrong.

The dream magic wasn’t ever explained. Cath would wake up from dreams with lemon trees and roses growing around her bed…why? Was it because the Sisters were speaking to her about her fate in her dreams? Not really sure.

Finally, the pacing was a bit slow. I read it really quickly and it was easy to follow, but it was just a slow moving story from time to time. But then the ending felt rushed and one scene in particular felt like it came out of nowhere. It made me feel a little disjointed.

Characters: Catherine is an imperfect character. We knew where she was headed since this story serves as a prequel. We knew that she wouldn’t be a Cinderella kind of character, always cheerful and full of optimism. She’s even a bit judgmental and selfish from time to time, which makes it so that her turn towards evil isn’t completely out of left field. If she was Snow White-y or Cinderella-y, it wouldn’t make sense and it’d be hard to buy in to. But that’s just not the case here. She was actually pretty relatable for a while, big dreams and a drive to see them through, yet there was a series of obstacles in her way. I think Meyer made a strong creative choice with the story’s ending. It all makes sense and we can see how she got from Point A to Queen of Hearts.

Oh, Jest. What a love interest. Was this classic YA insta love? Meh. Sort of. It wasn’t like the “I just met him and his eyes are amazing and I want to marry him” kind of insta love, more like insta strong feelings. They did go back and forth one too many times for my taste, but then again…it was a pretty complicated situation.

The minor characters in this story were an interesting cast. You have Mary Ann, Cath’s partner in crime. They seem like sisters for the majority of the book, even though one serves the other. Then you have Cath’s parents, with the classic pushy gentry mom and the generic laid back pushover dad. There’s the king; the kind but stupid king. Where are everyone’s back bones? Where’s the courage and the guts? This book has an entire kingdom of people with their blinders on, in need of a leader. Enter the Queen of Hearts, ready or not, I guess.

Comparisons: I know a lot of people want to know how this book compares to The Lunar Chronicles, but really…there’s no comparison. Cinder and her friends get a lot more page time, a lot more room for character development and possibility. This book is a standalone, so what’s done is done. If you’re a fan of TLC, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like this story, especially if what you enjoyed most was the science fiction element. That’s just not a thing in this book. Meyer’s writing shines through, though, just like it did in TLC. Plus, the tones of the two stories are totally different. So that’s my two cents when it comes to comparing.

Final thoughts: If you’re not a huge fan of Wonderland like me, don’t be put off by this story. I really enjoyed it, even though I never could connect with Alice or Through the Looking Glass. Too much whimsy loses me, but Meyer does a great job of balancing the story that already exists and taking creative license. Overall, I liked this book. I wasn’t just super crazy about it, but I generally enjoyed it. My advice: don’t read it on an empty stomach. There’s talk of baked goods on every page.

Pick this up if you liked:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Goodreads rating: 4.14/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.3/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn