The language is lyrical and beautiful, but not overly fluffy as to distract from the story. While the story is set in a medieval, magical kingdom filled with knights and peasants, Argyle doesn't get bogged down with trying to make the characters sound "of the period." Instead, the dialogue flows effortlessly and the prose practically disappears in front of the reader's eyes, leaving us engrossed in the characters and the story.
I enjoyed the dark twists to the fairytale as well. Argyle doesn't hold back, but lets the reader see the full extent of darkness and evil in her characters. In fact, even our beloved protagonist, Cinderella, is not immune from the darkness as we discover throughout the story. It was this darkness that drew me into the story and made it ring true in a way that fairy tales often do not.
Perhaps the most deftly developed aspect of the story is the relationship between Cinderella and her prince, Rowland. While Cinderella is convinced that their relationship is based purely on magic, we see a depth of love develop between the couple that makes this marriage very real. Unlike the "happily ever after" vision of a perfect Prince Charming, Rowland has his flaws, the biggest of which is that he is not the handsome stranger who haunts Cinderella's dreams. As she discovers, however, the gentle, steady love that forms her marriage is far more precious than the passion she thought she wanted.
The one aspect of the story that did not ring quite as true to me was the stranger in Cinderella's dreams. When he turns out to be a magical being, it becomes hard for the reader to hope that Cinderella to choose him over Rowland, though I imagine this may have been the author's design. Yet, in a world where all the other beings have some sort of darkness in them, I wanted to see darkness in this stranger as well, some glint of evil that would push the story that one last step.
I found this to be a deeply engaging book, one which I read in practically one sitting. The bittersweet ending left me nothing short of breathless. My response: "Yes! *sigh* More?" And that's precisely what a reader's response to any ending should be.
For more information about Cinders, visit Michelle Davidson Argyle's website.