Cinder & Glass

Written by Melissa de la Cruz
Review by J. Lynn Else

Cinder & Glass is best described as a Cinderella tale without the fantasy elements. In 1682 during the reign of the Sun King, King Louis XIV, Lady Cendrillon de Louvois and her father are moving to Versailles. During her first visit, she comes face to face with the spoiled Dauphin. A year later, after her father’s death, and with Cendrillon now a servant under the cruel gaze of her stepmother, the Dauphin may be her only chance to escape her abuse. The Dauphin will be selecting a bride from a handful of eligible nobles, and Cendrillon is chosen as one of them along with her stepsisters. If competition wasn’t enough, her budding feelings for the Dauphin’s illegitimate brother aren’t helping her win the Dauphin’s favor either.

The Palace of Versailles is wonderfully explored during the narrative. The rooms are sumptuous and the ball gowns a cascade of decadent fabrics dancing across the pages. Story-wise, this is an easy read appropriate for young teens. Unfortunately, there’s not a unique spin on this very well-known tale. Cendrillon comes across as unbearably naïve at times. The book follows the Cinderella story rather closely, so having Cendrillon be oblivious to upcoming events makes both the plot and her emotions predictable. Readers know exactly when Cendrillon is going to be betrayed or rescued. The Godmother character seems to appear when it’s convenient to advance the plot. She is established in the beginning as a family friend, but then there’s excuse after weak excuse regarding her subsequent absences. The only true difference I found was throwing a second “Prince Charming” into the mix. While the historical details are intriguing, for such a talented and accomplished author, I was dismayed by the lack of depth to the characters and the plot.