This is a prequel to Ella Enchanted. (The book, not the movie starring
Anne Hathaway, which is very different from the source material.) Evie (Evora) is a young girl who is on her way to be a fairly talented physician when her world turns upside down. Her best friend Wormy (Warwick) decides to propose to her, and sensing a proposal, the Fairy Godmother Lucinda shows up. When Evie says “Thanks, but no thanks,” Lucinda turns her into an ogre, with a time limit of 62 days to accept another proposal or she’ll be an ogre forever.
I was disappointed in this book. I mean, what’s the moral here? (“What is the moral? Must be a moral.”) To listen to both sides before making a decision? Evie has very strong reasons for declining Wormy’s offer, but Lucinda will hear none of it. Evie thinks that no one should get married before the age of 18, due to the consequences of rushing into young love that she sees all around her. She is focused on her career and her future. And she personally thinks that she’s too young to marry, and in fact may never marry. And while she thinks of Wormy as her dearest friend, she isn’t in love with him! “Yes, I loved him – the way I loved my pet rabbit.” And she had no idea of his romantic leanings, so his proposal was a complete surprise, although she thinks he isn’t really in love with her either. All perfectly reasons not to get married at FIFTEEN! But Lucinda will hear none of it and selfishly makes a prejudiced decision that has the potential to ruin multiple lives. She tends to punish anyone who rejects a proposal, in fact. She thinks she knows best, when in fact she makes most of her decisions without thinking. And Evie has well-thought-out, reasonable explanations for her decision. It’s like punishing a med-school-bound high-school girl for not dating. And after Lucinda gives her a time limit, Evie’s character seems to change. She wasn’t concerned with love and marriage before, but now she’s forced to, and she’s not ready for that yet. What kind of a message does this send to young girls? “Oh, you may not be interested in boys, but you will when you’re pressured to!” And that’s just the beginning! Seriously, the first twenty pages.
The characters are not very likable here. Evie is constantly trying to change herself to be marginally accepted by the humans. (Another not-great message.) And she’s constantly going on about how hungry she is and how bad ogres smell. (Which Levine works into the plot, but it’s a bit excessive.) Wormy seems fine, although he makes a slightly questionable choice later in the book. Peter is a giant dick. Even Eleanor is annoying at times. The king isn’t great either. There’s a lot of lying happening here. And complaining. I don’t think there’s anyone I actually liked, except for perhaps a few minor characters who aren’t really around much.
And the plot. It goes all over the place! We have a really awesome plotline about ogres and dragons, and it was setting up to be really interesting, and it goes nowhere! I was so mad when Levine just left that bit of awesomeness hanging. The plot is a bit uneven as well. It feels slow in the beginning, and then rushes and feels a bit jumbled toward the end.
It’s a shame, because I was looking forward to this book when I saw it had come out. But it left me angry, confused, and disappointed. I had this on my list for book exchange, so I’m glad I received other books instead!