REVIEW: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

REVIEW: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineElla Enchanted (Enchanted #1) by Gail Carson Levine
Published: Scholastic (1997), Paperback, 240pg
Source: Gift
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance

At her birth, Ella of Frell was the unfortunate recipient of 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 and a half, or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse -- once and for all. (from Goodreads)

I haven’t read Ella Enchanted for a while, but it remains one of my favorite fantasy books nonetheless. Every time I read it, I fall more and more in love with the characters and the setting and the writing!

The best part is, I think, the fact that Ella saves herself. She isn’t a damsel in distress; she has a prince, but she doesn’t need him to come rushing in with sword drawn. Multiple times throughout the book, Ella figures out a way to get herself out of danger using her wits and her talents. She’s heroic and wonderful and yay for Ella!

Besides Ella, I also love how different traditional fairytale elements are woven effortlessly into the story. Fairy godmothers, glass slippers, trolls and curses and princes! It’s not so much like in Enchanted, where the stories are stuck into the main plot. More like story elements, instead. The whole book, then, feels very familiar and magical without ever ending up on the “boring” side of things.

Reading books like Ella Enchanted reminds me of how AMAZING fairy tale retellings can be! I like how the retellings give voices to people who might not otherwise be heard, and how they can “fix” (nowadays) problematic plot points. The best ones, though, keep the magic and charm of the original stories while letting the characters become more and more real. Ella Enchanted does just that, and you really need to read it SOON if you haven’t already done so.

Read: June 22, 2013

Did you know Ella Enchanted was the first book in a series? There are four books total now! I’ve only read Fairest, which unfortunately wasn’t as good as Ella Enchanted is. Maybe because I listened to the audiobook– the voices were kinda…eh. I’m planning on reading it again, in text this time, and I’m going to read the other books as well! Yay!

So I wasn’t EVER going to watch the Ella Enchanted movie but then I remembered that Hugh Dancy is in it and I’m kind of torn? Hmmmmm.


9 thoughts on “REVIEW: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine”

  1. I vote yes to the movie! Although I am biased, having seen the movie (because it has Hugh Dancy in it) before ever having read the book. I’ve only read the book once, and it was a while ago, although I remember enjoying it. They are a fair bit different in terms of plot, though (as far as I remember) the tone and moral are pretty similar. So if you go into it expecting the book, it’s probably going to be a disappointment, but if you go into it expecting Hugh Dancy and Anne Hathaway and Cary Elwes running around and being silly and keeping you entertained through a sick day or a hangover, then it’s a ton of fun.

    1. That last sentence there has convinced me that I have to watch it now! I like silly fun stuff and I think I can separate the movie from the book if I try hard enough. Yay!

  2. Yes to all of this!

    I planned to give the movie a wide berth, but then I decided to watch it in one of my more masochistic moments. I was less than impressed. I watched it again with some small children who wanted to see it, though, and then again with my old flatmate, and it’s started to grow on me. It’s nowhere near as good as the book, but it’s sort of cute if you look at it as a completely separate thing.

    1. I’m a little wary about the ending dance sequence (because wtf) but they did the same thing in Mirror Mirror and it wasn’t TERRIBLE (not that it was particularly good, either. But I’ve definitely seen worse movies!), so.

  3. The movie’s very silly, and I haven’t felt the need to rewatch it, but I think as long as you go into it without the expectation that it’ll be anything like the book, it could be enjoyable. Think of it as having, like, a similar premise to Ella Enchanted.

    (Just realized Memory said the exact same thing as I just said. I second Memory!)

    It makes me sad that I’ve never loved any of Gail Carson Levine’s other books nearly as much as I loved Ella Enchanted. I’ve barely reread them. The Wish was pretty good but the other ones, meh.

    1. I can’t remember reading ANY of GCL’s books other than Ella and Fairest, which is kinda sad if you think about it because I LOVE ELLA ENCHANTED SO MUCH so presumably I should love her other books, too. But Fairest. Hm. Not so much with the love, and that makes me not want to try reading the other books either, because what if they suck?


  4. Trust me, skip the movie. If you’ve read the book the movie will be positively offensive to see.

    Although I’ve read almost all of Gail Carson Levine’s books and thoroughly enjoyed them, I have never loved them as much as I love Ella Enchanted. There’s just something indescribably special about this book in particular (my copy has been read so many times it’s almost in pieces!)

    1. I’m wobbling about that– on the one hand, I probably won’t like it because I love the book so much! On the other, if I can successfully divorce the book from the movie version, I might enjoy it? Hm.

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