By Gail Carson Levine
Harper Collins Publishers, 1997. 232 pgs. Young Adult
At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out to find freedom and self-discovery, trying to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way.
This has to be my favorite version of Cinderella. The obedience curse adds a really interesting element to the story, and it really helped with a part of the story I never understood - why Ella acts as a servant when her parents were nobility. Also, the love story is built up pre-ball, so it actually makes sense why they fall in love with each other, and you are really rooting for them by the end. I listened to the audiobook version, and the youthful reader (she sounded about 14 years old) was charming. They also added several musical touches during significant passages which really brought some parts to life.