PROJECT FAIRY TALE: Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

Hosted by Alison at The Cheap Reader


For my first Cinderella retelling, I chose ELLA ENCHANTED. I was going to pick up the book, but then I found the audiobook at my library and thought that would be even better! It was definitely a really quick listen at 5 discs (I think it ran close to 6 hours?) and the narrator did a great job, although I’m not sure the voice was quite accurate… I was kind of confused whether the book (based on content and the narrator’s voice) should have been more MG or more YA. Ella is 15 in the book and we deal with topics like relationsihps and marriage, but at the same time, it has more of a middle grade feel. Maybe it falls somewhere in between the two and either age range will work. ANYWAY…


At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read. (From


I thought this was a fantastic retelling! The best part of ELLA ENCHANTED for me was how different it was and involved an original story. We don’t even see the Cinderella parallels (besides the stepmother/stepsisers) until closer to the end of the book. The first half focuses more on Ella and her curse as well as her evolving friendship with Prince Char. Ella goes on an epic quest to find a way to lift or reverse her curse, so as we get to know Ella, the focus is more on her story and creating a unique character instead of us picturing her as Cinderella.

At first I was a little worried that it wasn’t really a Cinderella retelling since it actually took so long for the book to get to things like balls and carriages, but eventually we did get there and it was so nicely done. The retelling aspect was neatly woven into Ella’s story, and as I’ve found from other retellings I’ve started, I think it’s important to have an original story to start as a foundation. Without it, I find myself drifting and getting bored really quickly. The retellings that I’ve been interested in have followed the original fairy tale of Cinderella, but definitely have their own unique aspects to draw the reader in.

Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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13 thoughts on “PROJECT FAIRY TALE: Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

  1. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

    Ella Enchanted was one of my FAVORITE books as a kid! I think I first read it in 7th grade and I’ve read it 3 or 4 times. It’s a fantastic retelling mixed with a really nice original story. Cinderella retellings are some of my favorite kinds. I just wish the movie was even half as good- it’s terrible compared to this lovely book! It’s actually on my #ReRead2015 challenge list, I can’t wait to get to it 🙂

  2. Suzanne

    This is one of my favorite fairy tale retellings. I agree that it’s probably more towards the middle grade end, but I definitely thought her prince was quite swoon-worthy. It was the originality of the whole story that sold it for me. I have actually checked it out from the library at least twice. LOL

  3. Cait

    I’m so glad you chose this for a retelling! I’m not a huge fan of the Cinderella story; however, Ella Enchanted is a win for me. It is one of my favorite middle grade stories, and I love how the retelling is so original. I think I enjoy this version much better than the original Cinderella because Ella is so adventurous and able to take care of herself. I never found Cinderella to be that way…
    Love it!

  4. Candice

    EEEEEE!!!! I LOVE this book oh so much! I really wish I had found it when I was younger because I think it would’ve been one of those great books to remember from my childhood. Of course, I think I was a little older when it came out, but still. Such a good book! I also adore the movie and watch it whenever it comes on TV or if it’s rainy and there’s nothing on TV, I’ll pull out my DVD of it! Granted, it’s not nearly as good as the book, but still! Glad you liked this one and chose it for Project: Fairy Tale!

  5. Briana

    This is one of my favorite books from my childhood. Gail Carson Levine has always represented what I think a good retelling should me–one that is inspired by the original tale, rather than a step-by-step recount, just in a different setting or something.

    My second favorite book by Levine is The Two Princesses of Bamarre.

  6. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook

    Ella Enchanted was the first fairytale retelling I ever read and it is still one of my absolute favorites. I’m with Mary – I found the movie a bit disappointing. I mean the whole thing with the evil uncle and the snake. Please! Although I totally liked Anne Hathaway singing “Somebody to Love.”

    I definitely see this more as middle grade. I mean teens could like it, but I think the middle schoolers really connect with it.

    Are you going to read Fairest by Levine? It’s a snow white retelling. I liked that one too, although not as much as Ella Enchanted.

    1. Brittany Post author

      I can BARELY remember the movie. I don’t remember where I saw it and I remember very little of it, which I guess was a good thing when starting the book!

  7. Stormy

    I remember reading this book for the first time in 6th grade after a friend bought it for me as a gift. It’s one of those books I still go back to re-read when I’m in a bit of a reading rut or had a bad day. I think Ella Enchanted was the first fairy tale retelling I really enjoyed.

  8. Tara

    I would definitely call this one more middle grades, even though Ella is 15. Our Battle of the Books team at the middle school I worked at used to read this book and LOOOOOOOOVED it. It’s also, if I remember correctly, fairly feminist? I think the girls liked that.

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