Magic at Midnight

Harper. (Cinders and Sparks: Bk. 1). Apr. 2021. 224p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780063006690.
Gr 3-7–When Cinders finds herself washing yet another pile of dishes, a punishment from her stepmother for getting muddy again, she is resigned to the idea that her chores are going to take “forever.” If only the dishes would wash themselves, she wishes. Imagine her surprise when they do, and the surprises do not end there. Over the course of an afternoon, Sparks, Cinders’s dog, gains the ability to talk; Brian, her fairy godmother, appears; and Cinders learns she possesses magic. Good thing too, as magic is the only way she is getting to the ball. The story follows a very familiar arc as Cinders attends the ball, meets Prince Joderick, hastily departs at midnight leaving behind a glass slipper, and is brought back to the palace to be married to the prince. It is back at the palace that Cinders’s magic goes awry, forcing her to flee the fairy-fearing royal family and embark on what might be her biggest adventure yet. The juxtaposition of technologies like the cell phone–esque “elf phone” with the otherwise rustic setting provides a modern, if at times anachronistic, twist on the classic fairytale setting. In terms of pacing, this series debut builds slowly and ends abruptly, which may be difficult for some readers.
VERDICT A good choice for readers seeking a new twist on an old classic; purchase where fractured fairytales are popular.

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