Review of Melissa de la Cruz’s CINDER & GLASS

Cinder & Glass by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fairytale retellings are my weakness – I blame a childhood obsession with the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and the assortment of fairytale books from around the world my grandmother sent us. There are authors out there who’ve taken on the task and succeeded brilliantly. And (especially recently) there are writers who decided to venture into that realm and failed spectacularly.

This book falls into the latter category.

As always, the concept showed potential. No mucking about with magic or the expected trappings of fantasy one tends to associate with the story of “Cinderella.” I appreciated the setting of Versailles during the court of Louis XIV, complete with the opulence and scandal and societal pressure. Everything stretched out, ready to embrace the reader within a gorgeous tale of loss, desperation, and redemption. The pieces were THERE. But Ms. de la Cruz didn’t use them. And I can’t for the life of me understand why not.

The plot suffered from fundamental problems from the pivotal moment onward. Cendrillon’s place within the household is inconsistent – as is her character. She’s a servant, yet she enjoys wild freedoms following the ball? She’s meek and frightened one moment, bold and assertive the next, then weak and uncertain again? Her arc is impossible to follow. There is no justification for her sudden demotion to servant. She accepts the position without question, which blatantly violates the person she’s presented as in the book’s first section. Even taking the loss of her father into account, there’s no reason for her to suddenly “bow out” and decide she doesn’t belong in the family. An entire chapter felt absent to justify her behavior. A richer story existed within the characters and plot skeleton provided, but instead of embracing it, Ms. de la Cruz chose to fall back on the stereotypical “Cinderella” story, and the book suffered as a result.

Even the basic elements of writing caused the book’s weakness. Poor editing showed throughout, particularly with paragraph insertions in the dialogue. Half the paragraphs weren’t needed and complicated the reading as I struggled to piece together who was speaking. I don’t know who was responsible for the final review, but they did a poor job. Finally, the decision to write in first person caused the ending to collapse. A second-hand retelling of the rescue? It lost all the dramatic tension and emotion, falling decidedly flat. And the sudden addition of the mirror? Careless. In the preceding chapter, Cendrillon never related ANY indication of seeing a mirror or any motions with a bottle. Again, whoever was in charge of consistency fell down on the job.

There was INCREDIBLE potential in this retelling. And all of it was wasted. The least I can say was the Court of Versailles received a beautiful description.

View all my reviews

Join the Conversation