Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Review: Cinderella, Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan

Cinderella, Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan has got to be one of the most unique fairy tale retellings I have ever read. McGowan has taken the traditional Cinderella story and turned it completely on it's head. Gone is the soft and sweet Cinderella, accepting of her fate and willing to follow her step-mother's commands. In her place is a feisty and fierce fighter, just waiting for her chance to break free of the magical shackles her awful step-mother has placed around her.

When no one is around, Cinderella practices trying to harness and control the magic running through her veins — a gift from the mother she's never known, who was a very powerful (good) wizard as well as honing her instincts, reflexes and ninja moves. Being locked in her tiny cellar room anytime she's not being forced to do her step-mother's bidding gives her the privacy she needs to practice unnoticed (although there's not a lot of time, and she always waits until her step-family is either sleeping or gone) and she waits for the day her skills will be enough to free her from her step-mother's black magic bonds.

It was a refreshing change to have a Cinderella character who is not only tired of living under the tyranny of her step-mother, but actively trying to do something about it. Not only that, but she kicks some serious trash. I really liked Cinderella's character. She hasn't let life with her horrid step-family destroy her spirit and she's just biding her time, waiting for her step-mother to make some sort of mistake or slip-up that will allow her to gain her freedom.

Although there is much unique about the story line and the character of Cinderella, what really makes this book different from any other fairy tale I've ever read is the 'Chose Your Own Adventure' element. At three different places in the story, you are given two options, and it is up to you to decide what Cinderella shall chose. This gives you 8 different options for how the story will play out, although there is only one ultimate ending.

I read the book, making one set of choices and then went and read the sections I have skipped the first time to see how the story might have been different. I loved that each section was completely different. The different choices for Cinderella took her on a completely different path. Choice A and Choice B never felt like mirror images or parallels. They were entirely unique which I admit is something I was worried about.

Although there is a lot that I liked about this book, and my overall feelings for it are positive, I'm not entirely sure I loved this one. There were times it felt almost awkward to me, and not in an intentional way. There were times where the book just didn't flow smoothly and although I know it's incredibly important to her and she desperately needs to improve her skills, I got a little tired of listening to her think about becoming a ninja warrior and training to become a better ninja warrior, and honing her ninja warrior skills, then worrying about not being able to fully use her magic without a proper want, (even though everyone knows that it takes far more skill to direct your magic without one, and she's doing very well, considering she's never had formal training) and then it's back to thinking about being a ninja warrior. I never knew how stilted and awkward the phrase ninja warrior could sound before reading this book.

While this isn't a book that I'd consider a favorite, it was a great read. I truly enjoyed Cinderella's adventures and watching her befriend Ty, the royal messenger who comes to deliver the invites to the ball. They meet up fairly often (especially considering Cinderella's previous confinement) and they were such fun to watch get to know each other. And I loved that it wasn't the 'love at first site' that is so rampant in books today.

Really, this is one that you should pick up if you like fairy tales and are looking for something a little different from the norm.

Thought I'd mention that this is going to be part of a series. The stories are meant to be read alone, but all four books in the series have the same 'Chose Your Own Adventure' style and a unique twist on an old tale. The other book currently out is Sleeping Beauty, Vampire Slayer. Has anyone read that one? Let me know what you thought!

*Disclaimer — I received this book as part of a promotional book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.