Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Review: Cinders

Title: Cinders
Author: Michelle Davidson Argyle
Genre: Fairy Tale/Fantasy
Publisher: Createspace
Price: $8.00
Pages: 184
ISBN: 978-1453629956
Point of Sale: Amazon.com
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Book Description: Cinderella's happily-ever-after isn't turning out the way she expected. With her fairy godmother imprisoned in the castle and a mysterious stranger haunting her dreams, Cinderella is on her own to discover true love untainted by magic.

Poor disappointed Cinderella, or rather, Christina, in this case. Her wish was granted, and now, ironically, life isn't turning out to be the ideal happy ever after she wanted or expected. Written in the gothic styling of traditional fairy tales like Aesop's Fables, what we have here is a "be careful what you wish for" cautionary tale. An allegory, if you will, about the brutally honest awakening -- the enlightenment -- of an impetuous child dissatisfied with her current life. Sure, we all know the story: Cinderella’s father died and her step-monster and sisters have abused and tormented her, but in this case, there was another man, so to speak, come before the Prince. But in Cinderella’s haste to avenge herself and serve the desert best served cold, she allowed herself to be manipulated by magic into making a choice that was not mature and not entirely her own, which ultimately would betray her heart and the heart of another. Most girls would be hard-pressed to resist when confronted with this situation. The thought of being offered a chance to escape a life of misery with one wave of a fairy Godmother's wand. The thought of being a Princess and of having a charming handsome husband who dotes on you and lavishes the tenderest of affections on your flesh in the quietest of hours, hell, who wouldn't jump at the chance for that? It's that sort of impetuousness that leads us to temptation. Cinderella seeks nothing more than the fulfillment of her desires without actually contemplating anything beneath or beyond the surface. Our Cinderella, in this case, will discover the truth behind her naive and childish choice, and she will find all this out the hard way. A person is defined by what they do and what they don't do, and every choice or action has a positive and a negative reaction equal in strength and ferocity. She has been warned. Even if the choice she makes isn’t the right choice for her upon later reflection, it’s too late. With some choices, you cannot go back. The fact that she even asks this is very telling.

Therefore, our Cinderella in this story is not an easy character to empathize with. She has everything, and all she can do is complain. She pines away in secret for another man, whom she met before the Prince and now believes may be nothing more than an artifact of a dream. Her in-laws, the King and Queen, are not the kindest and gentlest of rulers, and she isn't sure her husband, the Prince, would actually truly love her if it weren't for the spell cast upon him. She finds her dresses too heavy, the castle too cold and boring, and the laws of the land too unfair, even if she secretly wanted her Step-mother to suffer -- just a little bit. Cinderella herself can often be cold and unyielding, and by mid-story, we find that she has grown little from the experience, and predictably and selfishly, she allows herself to be manipulated again for the second time in her life by the same magic that put her in her current predicament. However, this time, people will die because of her fickleness of heart. The powers manipulating her know this and have conspired to use her immaturity to get exactly what they want.

In the end -- no spoilers here -- things end badly, depending on your perspective. Cinderella winds up in a predicament much worse than what she was in before, but, we can hold fast to the hope that she has gleaned some enlightenment from the circumstances thrust upon her. In the end, she has a real chance to make some positive choices, choices that will be entirely her own. We can only hope she chooses wisely. She does keep one promise, so that’s a start.

All in all, I loved this book. It is a true novella in every respect. The cover is beautifully done. The writing is lovely and imaginative and simple in its tenor. It’s a quick fluid read. If there were any editorial issues, I certainly didn’t notice them, and the interior layout is designed with ample whitespace and clean elegant styling. Even a young reader will be able to understand the concepts being presented here. The feel while reading it is that of a much older fairy tale, fairy tales which were rather dark, gruesome, and abrupt, written mainly to teach a lesson by scaring the crap out of impressionable children. And while this book, like the original fairy tales of old, is loaded with abuses and intrigue and death, the treatment of these issues is quite subtle, so to sum up, if you are looking for the story of Cinderella annexed as a romance novel, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for Cinderella erotica, a la Anne Rice, you will also be disappointed, but if you are looking for a real tried and true Fairy Tale with all the grimness and subterfuge fables like these have to offer, then this is what you want. Enjoy. I certainly did.

9.5/10 I only took half a point off because I felt the “other man” could have been explored just a little bit more.

This book was reviewed from a print copy provided by the author and will be offered as a giveaway in one of our upcoming monthly contests.

Author's Note: Cinders as a stand-alone novella will be going out of print in the next few months. It is scheduled for re-release in the Fall of 2012 as part of a fairy-tale themed omnibus titled Bonded through Rhemalda Publishing, a small publisher based in Washington. For more information, readers can visit Michelle's author page here: http://www.michelledavidsonargyle.com/2010/10/thirds-promotional-coming-soon.html

1 comment:

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Cheryl, thanks for this beautiful review!