As a kid, my favorite fairytale was Cinderella. I would read the story over and over and would even write what I now know to be fanfic of it. I love stories about good people who are downtrodden and mistreated but are able to escape, work towards, or be rescued and carried off to a better life. For some reason, I strongly related to this. Life in Jamaica wasn’t bad, but it was (and is) hard, and I would often dream of the day my parents would come rescue me and carry me off to live with them in the fabled land of America, where anything is possible.
Now that I’m living in America and saddled with student loans, I now dream of the day that I win the lotto/find a long-lost rich uncle/get a huge raise that will help me pay off my student loans quickly.
My love for Cinderella did not fade over the years. It grew stronger. And although I hardly ever reread the fairytale, I easily fall for its retellings, like Cinder by Marissa Meyer, or stories that have characters who allude to Cinderella in some way, like Harry Potter. So, I was beyond excited when Millie from Milliebot Reads featured this edition of the fairytale in one of her Judging a Book by Its Cover posts. I knew right then that I had to purchase it. The illustrations and book design called to me. And when the NEWTs Magical Readathon came around, I took the opportunity to finally reread one of my favorite fairytales.
Children’s fantasy; fairytale
June 2015 (original pubbed in 1697)
Charles Perrault’s story of a sweet-tempered young girl, forced into servitude by her evil stepmother and stepsisters, who finds true love with a handsome prince (with the help of a fairy godmother), has enchanted readers for more than 300 years. In this lavishly illustrated retelling of the classic fairytale, Camille Rose Garcia reimagines Cinderella through her distinctive visual aesthetic. Hers is a Cinderella for the twenty-first century: Dark, compelling, vibrant, and enthralling. (Goodreads)
There’s not much else I can say about the story. I enjoyed rereading it, and I still love it. I don’t think my love for this fairytale and the stories it inspires will ever go away. So let’s move on to the highlight of this book — the illustrations.
I don’t think Garcia’s illustration style is what one would expect to be paired with fairytales. However, I think it’s a great pairing that hints at the darker parts of fairytales that are often edited out.
Garcia’s illustrations are detailed and very appealing. I love the image of Cinderella fleeing the ball on the cover, which is one of many things that compelled me to purchase this edition. The image is so dramatic what with the longing in Cinderella’s eyes and especially the arc of her dark tears, which flow out and curve in the air rather than stream down and soil her cheeks with mascara.
Although I like the illustrations, it took a while for me to get accustomed to them once I started reading. There’s a creepy, gothic quality to them that was unexpected and took some time to get used to mostly, I think, because it was unexpected. However, the more I read, the more I appreciated these details, which I think modernizes the story yet contrasts well with recent versions of it that avoid including the gruesome bits. However, this edition does not include the gory details such as the stepsisters chopping off parts of their feet to fit in the slipper. After all, this is intended for children.
But the illustrations make up for the lack of such gory bits by including details that gives the book a slightly creepy quality, such as the semi-snakelike appearance of the characters that’s more pronounced in the evil step sisters. All the characters have vertical slit pupils and long, thin tendril-like fingers. And instead of mice, Cinderella has bats, frogs, snakes, and lizards as friends.
However, the creepiness doesn’t overpower the story but instead add detail to it that compels the reader. The color palette also prevents the creepy details from being overwhelming. Garcia mostly uses a pastel palette — lots of light pinks, greens, purples, and cream — that softens the illustrations. There are some pages with deeper colors — blacks and rich reds — that emphasize the gothic nature of the illustrations, but they are used sparingly and are intended to add drama to the illustrations they are applied to. The patterns that borders the pages, as well as the font for enlarged text, also help to tone down the darkness and add softness to the illustrations.
From my little research on Garcia’s illustrations for this book, I learned that it takes her four to five months to complete these illustrations, she used watercolor to create them (which I think also helps to soften the illustrations), and her favorite characters to draw were the stepsisters. (I got all this from SparkNotes.)
“I love painting the villains more so than the princess. I’ll take a villain any day. They are super fun to draw.” — Camille Rose Garcia
Of the illustrations, my favorite details are Cinderella’s cobweb eyelashes. I think that’s a nice touch that hints at her servant status at her home. I also love that cobwebs are used to create her crown when she attends the ball. Overall, these illustrations are a stunning addition to this years-old, yet still appealing, fairytale.
A beautifully illustrated version of one of my favorite fairytales.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
It’s worth it.