Just Ella

Just Ella (The Palace Chronicles, #1)Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Series: Book one of The Palace Chronicles
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Purchase: Book Depository

This review contains no spoilers.

This was published as a part of my Alphabet Books Goal.

You’ve heard the fairy tale: a glass slipper, Prince Charming, happily ever after…Welcome to reality: royal genealogy lessons, needlepoint, acting like “a proper lady,” and—worst of all—a prince who is not the least bit interesting, and certainly not charming.

As soon-to-be princess Ella deals with her new-found status, she comes to realize she is not “your majesty” material. But breaking off a royal engagement is no easy feat, especially when you’re crushing on another boy in the palace… For Ella to escape, it will take intelligence, determination, and spunk—and no ladylike behavior allowed.

This is interesting because it doesn’t take place when most Cinderella stories do. Most cover the death of Cinderella’s parents, the awful step family, the fairy godmother, the ball, and then they live happily ever after. However, the majority of this book doesn’t start until the ‘happily ever after’ does, and it shows that maybe its not so happy after all. The rest, including the ball and how she didn’t really have a fairy godmother, just a lot of skill and determination, is shown through flashbacks.

Ella – not cinder-ella, mind you – is forced to learn to be a princess, which above all means learning to let others take of her, an odd turn for a former servant. She’s uncomfortable with the cushy life that was provided for her just because of her looks, after all, the prince doesn’t know her enough to be ‘in love’ with her. At the same time she starts to see the loopholes in the governing system: the court drama, the public opinion, and the idea that leaders are born not made or chosen.


Cinderella is a book about the fallacy of ‘true love’ and ‘love at first sight’ years before Frozen and Maleficent made it cool. Its a story about a girl who fought hard for what she wanted, only to realize that maybe what she wanted was a whole lot simpler than she imagined.

Any lover of adventure and fairytale retellings should pick up this book, no matter what their age.


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