Publisher:Michelle Davidson Arygle
Release Date:July 28, 2010
Book Preview: "Cinders"
Cinderella's happily-ever-after isn't turning out the way she expected. With her fairy godmother imprisoned in the castle and a mysterious stranger haunting her dreams, Cinderella is on her own to discover true love untainted by magic.
I didn't intend on reading this novella in one sitting. However, like good stories are apt to do, this one quietly pulled me in and by the time I realized it--I was past the point of no return.
I've read quite a few Cinderella sequels: some playful, some humorous, some full of talking animals and other familiar fairy-tale elements. Argyle's Cinderella while playful in some areas, humorous in others, is haunting in its elegance and simplicity. The prose itself is pitch perfect for the narrative, to the point where as a reader you forget that you're reading. It's presented like the glass slipper that it is: beautiful, translucent, and full of unexpected magic.
The characters are solid, memorable, sturdy and some of them ephemeral (I'll leave that for you to figure out...I don't do spoilers). The plot is deftly paced. But what struck me above everything else is Argyle's use of imagery. So many passages echo after they've been read...not because of how they were written, but because of what they said.
...After a moment Cinderella realized she was touching her crown, thinking of the grease on Marion's chin as she ate her food and told Rowland things weren't fair...
...Neither of these images represented what Cinderella saw now: a skeleton of a woman so thin and aged she looked as if she belonged to the worn stone walls. Her skin was gray, her eyes dull and lifeless. Her hair had fallen out in clumps, leaving only strings to cover her baldness...
I am actually leaving my favorite passages out because I want them to have the same effect on you as they did on me. They aren't mere descriptions. They tell the rest of the story.
Cinders takes unexpected turns, ironic turns, turns that some readers won't appreciate. Those aren't the readers to whom the story was intended. Few writers have the skill and foresight to craft a fairytale that is applicable to real life, while maintaining the elemental integrity of the story. Argyle does this seamlessly and while you think for a time that you're simply hearing another classic tale, slowly, you begin to see another layer--the bones beneath the flesh--and it is this layer, that adds the most brilliant aspect to Argyle's prose. With this layer, she breathes life into characters that we've become all too familiar with and gives them new purpose. This layer presents to us another fairytale, a slightly darker, more visceral one...read carefully and you'll see exactly what I mean. There is no question that each and every line was arranged with clear purpose and if you look closely, you'll see the reason for the novella's title.
Keep your eye on this girl. I don't say that often. This brief journey into Argyle's imagination left me wanting to see more of what she'll create in the coming years and there are few things more exciting for a reader than discovering, not just a book that holds promise, but an author with whom we know we'll share many adventures in the future.
Reviewed by: J.S. Chancellor
Every time Cinderella entered the ballroom she relived the first time. That night her feet had felt weightless stuffed inside the magic shoes, and dancing had come easily. Even when her legs grew tired, her feet kept moving, gliding past Rose’s glaring eyes until Rowland spotted her and took her into his arms for a dance. He didn’t let her go until he led her outside and she looked up at the moon hanging in a jet-black sky. He turned to her after they ambled along a thin frozen path in the garden. “Where did you come from?” he asked. “It’s as if you’ve opened my eyes to something—what, I don’t know. Who are you?” He pressed his hands to hers.
When she explained that she was the daughter of Sir Samuel Plimmswood who died when she was eight years old, he tightened his hold on her hands and apologized for being so forward, for touching her at all, for bringing her outside unaccompanied. “But I can’t help it,” he said with a desperate look. “How have we not met earlier?”
Shivering, she lifted her eyes to the bare trees, their smooth bark glowing bright under the moon. She explained there was much work to do at home and she had never stepped foot inside the castle before. She had never thought she would have the honor to meet…and then Rowland had kissed her and she knew Eolande’s spell was sealed, that Rowland’s heart belonged to her forever.
Even now, as she stepped into the ballroom the evening of Rowland’s birthday, her arm wrapped around his, she felt the connection to him that the kiss had secured. Eolande had warned her it was a connection that could not be broken easily, even if Cinderella never learned to love him.
She had thought she would.
Now she wondered why she hadn’t asked Eolande about the stranger when the spell was performed. But Eolande had distracted her with promises of Rowland’s undying love, something solid and certain. The stranger had been gone for two years—much too long for Cinderella to believe he was anything but a dream vanished to dust.