• Leanne Heffernan

A review of W. Cooper's 'The Cinderella Effect'

I've just finished reading The Cinderella Effect by W. Cooper and found it be a captivating and engaging story that is quite unlike any other newly written work I have come across. The opening chapter sets a warm and inviting scene where the reader is immersed in the cosy glow of an open fire in a modest but comfortable cottage, as we meet the main character, Elysian, in her childhood. It is immediately apparent that the book is in the style of an old-fashioned fairytale and I instantly found myself reminded of a much-loved, shabby old story book given to me by my grandparents when I was a child. The text is intriguing and creates anticipation of what will happen as the main character's story begins to unfold. The author describes child-Elysian's fascination with the magic of the royal family living in the castle nearby, which changes to disinterest as Elysian grows into a teenager and has become aware that she is considered to be 'below' those who reside in the castle as she is a commoner and servant. The themes of bullying and feeling as though one lives in the shadow of those 'above' them is relatable to modern life and the dynamics of differing ends of a socio-economic society. There are enjoyable glimpses of childhood innocence as Elysian finds companionship feeding the resident mice around her home and warning them to avoid the cat lest they become his dinner. Unexpectedly one day Elysian becomes caught up in the life of Prince Cassius, son of the reigning king, who is inexplicably drawn to her honest mannerisms and natural beauty. A life with him is a life she is forced to shy away from, however, in an attempt not to cause trouble with her cruel and uncaring guardians. Convinced by the pressuring of the eager young prince, she agrees to meet him again despite her conscience warning her not to. While awaiting their next secret tryst, Elysian finds herself swept into a complicated battle of power and defiance between her awful guardians, the nasty and menacing King Nebuli who seeks to have her as a trophy to instill fury and jealousy into Prince Cassius, and the young prince himself. The plot is quite complex as Cassius, his father and his confidantes struggle to balance the laws and expectations of tradition and royalty with the subject of his heart's only desire - Elysian, the commoner. When revelations are made about her true heritage, chaos ensues for all involved and the situation spirals out of control for all involved. As the plot thickens and characters become more and more at odds with each other, I found it difficult to put the book down as I turned page after page to find out what would happen next. There were instances where I found myself surprised when the storyline did not play out as I predicted or expected, and by the end of the book I had given up attempting to figure out how it would end; it was refreshingly unpredictable and while it read strongly like a traditional fairytale, it certainly did not play out in the standard expectation of one. The complex language of the narrative combined with the authentic representation of the traditions and standards of medieval royal life and relationships created a mesmorising, can't-stop-reading story that is as unique as it is enjoyable. I would absolutely recommend adding this book to your library if you're looking for something a little different to mainstream and especially if you have fond memories of reading fairytales as a child. Reading one such as this as an adult was a real treat.

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