Sonderbooks Book Review of Bella at Midnight

Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations

cover

*****Bella at Midnight

by Diane Stanley

Reviewed December 17, 2006.
HarperCollins, New York, 2006.  278 pages.

I loved this book.  It’s my favorite genre—the fairy tale retelling or original fairy tale.  This one had a different feel to it than so many others (for example, Ella Enchanted).  Now, I’m crazy about Ella Enchanted, but this one felt fresh and new.

This one had shades of Cinderella, with a stepmother and stepsisters, a godmother and glass slippers.  But the climax wasn’t about going to a ball; it was about stopping a war.

The chapters in this book are told from different characters’ perspectives.  Even the stepmother and stepsisters get to have their say, adding much depth to the tale.

Bella is the daughter of a knight, but she is brought up by peasants, because her mother died in childbirth, and her father doesn’t want to have to deal with her—until she’s grown and he has remarried.  But the knight’s new family scorns her peasant manners.

Her foster mother was the prince’s wet-nurse before she began with Bella, and he often comes to visit them.  So later when the prince’s life is in danger, Bella has to try to save him, though her current family doesn’t even believe that she knows the prince.

Bella does get the aid of some “magical” objects, but mostly she uses her own ingenuity and good spirits.  She’s a heroine who’s easy to love.  This is a compelling story, wonderfully told.

Reviews of other books by Diane Stanley:
The Silver Bowl
The Cup and the Crown
Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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