Tuesday, February 05, 2013
I've Got Your Glass Slipper Right Here, Sister
Cinderella's Secret Diary: Lost by Ron Vitale
Cinderella's Secret Diary: Stolen by Ron Vitale
Recommended for: angst-ridden teens with a serious Prince Charming complex, people who like their fairies with a little more menace, and disaffected college students
Everybody knows the story, right? Girl is a virtual slave...wicked stepmother...ball...fairy godmother...glass slippers...happily ever after...yada, yada, yada. But what happens after the wedding? How happy can ever-after
This is precisely where the Cinderella's Secret Diary series picks up the story. It seems life hasn't been all roses and sunshine for our mouse-loving, pumpkin-riding princess. In fact, it turns out Prince Charming is something of a rat bastard, and his Royal Mother the Queen doesn't really take a shine to the commoner he's married. When Cinderella is unable to produce an heir in a timely fashion, things go from tolerable to acutely tense around the royal castle.
To escape her misery and the scrutiny of the royal household, Cinderella arranges for a trip to France in spite of the fact that their two countries are on the verge of war. She and her best friend/lady-in-waiting go to live in a magnificent chateau for the Summer, and of course there is the requisite romance.
Up to this point everything in the book has been fairly standard YA fare - better written that Twilight, certainly, but sticking pretty close to the script. During their sojourn in France, however, things take a turn.
Vitale re-imagines our heroine such that she is far removed from the clutches of the Disney Princess marketing machine. I'm going to avoid spoilers at all costs, but I can safely say that the magical world of which Cinderella has already had a small taste comes to bear on her life in a decidedly dark and dangerous way.
For the remainder of Lost and continuing into Stolen, this new world of Vitale's imagining engulfs Cinderella, changing her destiny and forcing her to mature beyond the girl sitting in the cinders and ashes.
I'm not a huge fan of the fantasy genre, and I'm certainly not the target market for YA book series, yet the Cinderella Diaries proved to be an enjoyable experience. I could see this being valuable for girls of a certain age; suggesting to them that the reality of life is rarely a fairy tale experience, and perhaps seeking personal growth and maturity should take precedence over finding their Prince Charming.