Of Cinder and Madness by Nicole Zoltack
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Yes, Angelique is Ella’s (Eleonore’s) stepmother, but she’s not the bad guy. She just wanted to help the dark, troubled girl whose beauty was as captivating as her pain.
But it’s not that simple of a tale.
And trust me, everything you know about it is wrong.
I tend to love fairy tale retellings, so I was excited to snap Of Cinder and Madness up.
I kind of expected this story to be a bit dark (I mean, just look at the title). But as I wound my way through the story, I was somewhat perplexed at the complete rewrite of the original story, having little in common besides the roles of the characters (barons, prince, step children, etc.) and the settings in which they participated. Honestly, I kept reading it wondering if the stepmother was the one who was afflicted by madness, and the Cinderella story I’ve come to love would be restored.
I found the pacing a bit difficult as well. The story starts not in the middle of action, but somewhere floating before the action. the opening statements make Angelique seem bitter, almost vengeful, but we find out through the story this is not the case (over and over again).
Between the current story chapters are flashback chapters, detailing how they got to this place. The flashbacks skip around, and it ended up being a bit confusing at times, trying to decipher where I was in the story. Besides that, the constant back and forth, even when the current story finally got interesting, interrupted the flow.
Finally, though I wanted to like the characters, Eleonore was less than sympathetic, and Angelique’s constant struggle felt overdone, and she wallowed in self pity more than I could truly enjoy. The prince was perplexing as well (was he disturbed, too?).
The story is imaginative, and it totally turns the original on its head. It was obviously not the right fit for me, but I think others who like dark and twisted fantasies/fairy tales with a more casual pace and somewhat experimental format would enjoy Of Cinder and Madness.
**This book was clean, but it was disturbing, especially in its portrayal of madness.