REVIEW: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

ellaenchantedElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
HarperTrophy, 2011
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

How can a fairy’s blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!

But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse—and live happily ever after.


As something of a connoisseur of fairy tale retellings, I’ve had my eye on Ella Enchanted for a long time, but never seemed to find the time to actually give it a read. Thankfully, this was my Random Reads pick, which gave me the perfect excuse. This might possibly be my most favorite Random Reads pick yet, because I really enjoyed this book a lot. Ella is a spunky heroine who is full of humor and really tries to tackle her problems head-on, for the most part. I also loved that she had a very serious flaw – the fact that she HAD to be obedient – but that she really tried not to let it control her life, even if it wasn’t always possible. I also adored her relationship with Mandy, and especially the way her love for Char blossomed over time until it became a completely natural thing. Really, there’s nothing I can complain about here!

What I really liked was that, even though Ella had to be obedient, she still found little ways to get around the curse, like taking things literally in a way that made the person telling her to comply have to continue to restate their desires. It was especially fun to watch her at finishing school, even though a student like her (at least the way she was initially) would have driven me bonkers. While I hated watching her fall under the sway of Hattie (and later Hattie’s mom), I liked that she never completely gave in to her despair and continued to try to find a way to break the curse. Ella definitely demonstrated a strength of character that’s not always found in fairy tales, and I especially liked that, in the end, it was she herself who managed to fix her situation, rather than relying on magic.

The other thing I loved – and what makes this book stand apart from many other retellings I’ve read – is that the romance was well-written and developed extraordinarily well. Char and Ella became friends first, and I loved watching that friendship grow and deepen into something else. Insta-love is so often the norm in fairy tales that it was wonderful to watch these two fully developed and fleshed out characters have an equally as developed romance. I loved their letters, and their banter, and the way they made each other laugh. Considering that in the original tale of Cinderella, the prince pretty much falls for her instantaneously (and she with him), this was a much more satisfactory reading experience for me personally, and really brought life and spark to an old story. I really can’t say enough about the romance!

If you love fairy tale retellings, definitely pick up Ella Enchanted! There’s so much here to capture the reader’s attention. You will smile and laugh, as well as despair, right along with Ella, and you will love every minute of it. Don’t mind the fact that this is a book geared toward younger readers – it IS a fairy tale, after all – because there really is a surprising amount of heart and depth to be found within its pages. I can definitely recommend it wholeheartedly!



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6 Responses to REVIEW: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

  1. Elin says:

    This sound like a lovely book :) Love fairytale retelling stories :)

  2. S. L. Bond says:

    I’ve always wanted to read Ella Enchanted but I never got around to it. Loved the review!

  3. meganmoffat says:

    I love Ella Enchanted

  4. heartjess says:

    I JUST bought this when it was on sale… I’m really excited to read it!

  5. Pingback: Random Reads #8 :: December 2013 | Read and Reviewed

  6. Yay I’m so glad you loved this one, Merin! As I’ve said before, it’s my favorite fairy-tale retelling. I read it when I was a middle-grader myself, but there’s still a lot to love about it as an adult reader. I loved Ella and Char’s romance, but for me the absolute best part was Ella’s personal growth. Just so much and so well done. :)

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