Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison
Summary: Ella Coach has one wish: revolution. Her mother died working in a sweatshop, and Ella wants every laborer in the Blue Kingdom to receive fairer treatment. But to make that happen, she’ll need some high-level support . . .
Prince Dash Charming has one wish: evolution. The Charming Curse forced generations of Charming men to lie, cheat, and break hearts — but with the witch Envearia’s death, the curse has ended. Now Dash wants to be a better person, but he doesn’t know where to start . . .
Serge can grant any wish — and has: As an executive fairy godfather, he’s catered to the wildest whims of spoiled teenagers from the richest, most entitled families in Blue. But now a new name has come up on his list, someone nobody’s ever heard of . . . Ella Coach.
I just love this book. I read an early version of it, and that was incredible, but now I have just read the final version and I am even more blown away. This is one of those books that I just want to shove at people and say, “READ IT and you’ll understand!”, but I will try to be coherent here in explaining why.
The land of Tyme is the most fully-fleshed out setting I have ever read in a fairy tale retelling. Seriously, there is so much going at every level, large and small, and all of it adds up to a place that feel more real than most stories set in the real world. Then there are the characters: Ella is smart and fierce and determined and funny and flawed – a heroine at once relatable and aspirational. We should all strive to be as awesome as Ella. Watching Prince Dash Charming stumble through the aftermath of the broken curse – and the uncomfortable realization of his own privilege – is at once painful and inspiring. And he and Ella together are just lovely. There are also tons of other incredibly well developed female characters in the story: Sharlyn, the prickly stepmother who shows herself to be one of Ella’s staunchest defenders; Queen Maud, whose moral compass holds more sway over her husband and son than she knows; Jules, the fairy with ulterior motives; and Lady Lariat Jacquard, a villain on par with Dolores Umbridge for pure bile.
Morrison is not afraid to take on big topics from the real world and present them in a way that makes sense to young readers. No one can come away from this story without a deeper understanding of privilege, economic systems, and the importance of fair labor regulations. Morrison takes the central themes of the Cinderella story – rags-to-riches, deceiving appearances – and spins them out into a tale about examining what lies beneath our assumptions about others and developing empathy. And how did I get so far without mentioning Serge and Jasper? The additional layers of story created by Serge’s burgeoning realization that cause to which he has dedicated his life has been corrupted, and by his relationship with Jasper, take this far beyond a typical fairy tale retelling. No series has combined whimsy with compelling issues from the real world as seamlessly as this since Harry Potter.
DISENCHANTED: THE TRIALS OF CINDERELLA is out now.
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