The story begins with the preparations for the great ball where (Cinder)Ella will meet her prince and live happily ever after. However, this story is not about her. It is about Jo, and to a certain extent, her brother Ron. When Jo stumbles across a pumpkin and glass slipper and takes them home, she alters her destiny. When the slipper starts to hum for its mate, Jo is forced to accept the rumor about Ella and an enchanted slipper. Hoping she can just return the slipper and go back to normal, she seeks out Ella who is now living in the palace. However, Ella's godmother Arla tells Jo that she must now return the pair to their rightful owner, the Lady of Ould. Jo can no longer doubt the existence of magic as everyone has heard of the great and powerful Lady of Ould. So in the company of her protective older brother Ron, Jo begins a journey that reveals truths about her family origins that expand her small world and leaves no doubt that magic does exist.
I was hooked right away. The author presents a good description of Jo as the too-tall awkward teenaged girl. The reader is immediately endeared to her. Although Jo can be frustratingly stubborn at times, her stubbornness does push the story forward. The story is an easy and quick read that keeps you interested. In one scene, Jo and Ron meet a stranger named Locke who offers to accompany them on their journey as protection when they are attacked by someone trying to take the slippers. When Locke reveals who he really is, the passage only explains the symbol he shows them and then the chapter ends. The reader doesn't find out what this all means until several pages later, and by then new surprises spring up to keep you reading.
Some of the explanations of characters' history are a little confusing. Others are long and seem a bit awkward for characters to be narrating them. I would have liked a little more "he said" or "Jo said" because in places it took longer to figure out who was speaking until the end of a long passage of dialog. There are grammar issues but not too distracting.
The description and consistency of prose really involves the reader. Jo's character is really perceptive on facial expressions, letting the reader "see" the reactions of other characters. Also, the humming of the slippers does not end when they are reunited and at first the constant reminder of this fact annoys, which is exactly what it's doing to Jo throughout the book until it just becomes background noise, again like Jo's experience. Great device to bring the reader in.
The ending, although neatly tied up left me desiring a bit more from Jo and the antagonist. There does seem to be room for a sequel. I would give it 3.5 out of 5 stars, or 7 out of 10. Good reading for those who like fairy tale spinoffs. But don't be confused, this is an original story and not a retelling.
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