For this princess, winning the crown is no fairytale.
1682. The king sends out an invitation to all the maidens in France: their presence is requested at a number of balls and events that will be held in honor of the dashing Prince Louis, who must choose a bride.
Cendrillon de Louvois has more grace, beauty, and charm than anyone else in France. While she was once the darling child of the king’s favorite adviser, her father’s death has turned her into the servant of her stepmother and cruel stepsisters–and at her own chateau, too!
Cendrillon–now called Cinder–manages to evade her stepmother and attend the ball, where she catches the eye of the handsome Prince Louis and his younger brother Auguste.
Even though Cendrillon has an immediate aversion to Louis, and a connection with Auguste, the only way to escape her stepmother is to compete with the other women at court for the Prince’s hand.
Soon, as Cendrillon glows closer to Auguste and dislikes the prince more and more, she will have to decide if she can bear losing the boy she loves in order to leave a life she hates.
Melissa de la Cruz takes a lush, romantic hand to this retold fairy tale classic.
I’m a hugeeee sucker for all things Cinderella. It’s my favorite fairy tale and obviously my favourite one for retellings. So you can imagine my disappointment with how Cinder & Glass turned out, especially with such a gorgeous cover.
This story is set in 1600s France in the court of King Louis XIV. I loved the inspiration to set this fairytale in a historical period instead of some completely reimagined land. The plotline was also intriguing with a competition for the prince’s hand (very reminiscent of The Selection) while secretly falling for the younger prince instead.
With all these elements that just SCREAM at me to like it, it begs the question why I didn’t end up loving this book.
It really all comes down to execution. The set up for a Cinderella tale is quite simple. The protagonist lived a happy life with her family even as her mother died when she was young as her father more than made up for it. The loss of her father and the marriage to her stepmother are the turning points in the story that truly leads to the problems she has to face.
This takes a whole section of the book to even reach, a good quarter of the book setting up the beginning of the Cinderella plot. While I appreciate getting to know a bit about the inner workings of the French court when Cendrillon moved to Versailles, was it really necessary to drag it out that long? Her stepsisters are still fairly horrid and her new stepmother just screams evil in disguise.
Then there’s the pacing. Maybe it’s not my favoured format of reading but it felt very…narrated and detached? As if the author is simply moving through time telling us of what is happening to Cendrillon instead of diving into the depths of emotion she must be facing. I wanted to FEEL and instead it was all rather clinical in execution.
My favourite part of any Cinderella tale is the romance. Yes, I’m a modern day woman who can occasionally swoon at a princely figure coming to help and believe a woman who is being oppressed by someone in power over her. But even that held its own problems here.
First, the competition wasn’t really all that big in this story? It was present but we knew from the start that Cendrillon wasn’t going into it for love as she had met Auguste a year ago and already formed a bit of an attraction to him. Her motivation led to, well, a lack of ambition and focus to win so it wasn’t really that interesting reading about her dates or the other girls she competed with.
The attraction she felt for Auguste wasn’t even consolation as the chemistry was barely there. It felt like they had developed a good friendship in the scary world of court politics but it suddenly blew into the realm of “more-than-friendship” in the blink of an eye, with only the angst that she couldn’t be with him. I wanted to believe in this romance but I really wasn’t feeling it. And that just sucks big time because what’s a Cinderella tale without the love that conquers all?
While I have many complaints about this book, I did enjoy the setting and managed to read this in a day as it’s not too long of a book. The lush descriptions of Versailles made me wish I could go back there again and explore it a little less rushed. It also helped that it’s still a story based on my favourite fairytale. If it was any other, I probably would’ve been tempted to DNF at any time.
I can’t say I recommend this book – something my heart hurts to say because Cinderella! – but it could’ve been worse in some ways. There’s still the fight against the evil stepmother and satisfaction gained when good triumphs over those who oppress and abuse. The idea was there, but perhaps the execution could’ve used some tweaking.
And that cover is to die for so I could just sit here all day staring at it, which would be enough.
Cinder & Glass fell flat as a Cinderella retelling due to its lack of emotional depth and unhurried pace through the key points we all recognize from the tale. I wanted to love this so bad because I love Cinderella but I couldn’t emotionally connect with any of the characters, even the pain Cendrillon was going through. It’s not a Cinderella story if you don’t even sympathize for her. Or fall in love with her love story.