Quick Review: Ella Enchanted & The Two Princesses of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine

I had never read any of Gail Carson Levine’s books until this January and I felt it was about time I did, seeing as I kept seeing her books, especially Ella Enchanted, cropping up in every lists pertaining to fairytales and fairytales retellings. 

The only thing I knew about Ella enchanted was from the movie (of which I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I actually like in all its cheesiness and campiness). I had no idea the book would be so different, or I should say, that the movie was so different from its original source

Cursed with the gift of obedience at birth by a quite stubborn and clueless fairy, Ella had always coped with her curse, until the day she found herself with two mean step-sisters and ordered to do something she could not bring herself to do. Fleeing, Ella embarks on a quest to find the fairy that bestowed her the “gift” of obedience to ask her to take it away. In the process she finds friends and a strength she didn’t know she had.
Ella was a great heroine. Blessed with a knack for languages, she untangles herself from perilous situations with grace, wit and strength. I thought Ella Enchanted was a nice story, a great retelling of, probably, the most retold fairytale of all time. I read it in one evening and was delighted and amused.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre tells the story of two sisters who are different in all aspects except for the undying love the hold for one another. Princess Meryl is bold and strong, she dreams of glory and adventures. Princess Addie is shy and fearful, only dreams of staying safe in the castle. When a terrible disease, the Grey Death, that nobody can survive claims her sister, Addie suddenly has to find the strength within herself to save her sister. Armed only with a spyglass, seven-league boots, her sister’s sword (that she doesn’t know how to wield), and her love for Meryl, Addie sets out to find a cure to the disease that has plagued her country, and threatens to kill her beloved sister.

I loved the twist that it was the shy and fearful girl that had to set out on an adventure. Addie was the kind of character that we usually dismiss in fantasy novels, the girls and women that only like housework and embroidery, preferring the bold and brave girls that want more of life, that wields swords, or perform magic, that are only scared of being confine to a life they cannot bear. But then Gail Carson Levine, made her an heroine we could care about and root for. The character of Addie is saying not to dismiss girls like her, that there can be Bravery in the most shy and quiet creatures. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I love the songs and poems woven through the story, and the unexpected ending did take me a bit by surprise and made me smile. Most of all, though, I love tales that are not just about romantic love, but the love we have for sisters and brothers, friends and family

I like Levine's simple, but engaging  prose, and her stories while giving an air of lightness and fun also contained deep and thoughtful moments without ever being too dramatic. I am now curious to see if her other novels will please me as Ella Enchanted and The Two Princesses of Bamarre did.


  1. Yay, Levine! (Wow, you keep reviewing such great books. I can't help but comment, haha).

    I'm a big Gail Carson Levine fan and it all started for me with Ella Enchanted. The book is SO good. I mean, I really hope that they make another movie that actually follows the book; I don't think this is impossible, since they did the same type of thing with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which is why I'll never poo-poo the new movie. Who can complain, since it follows the books so well?). I did like the Ella Enchanted movie (even though I was incredibly frustrated at first). As soon as I learned to separate it from the book, I grew to enjoy it for what it is.

    My favorite part of the book is probably the ending, when she's struggling against her curse to make that final decision about Char (I love the book Char. He's just too cool). In that scene, I swear I was close to tears myself. At least breathing heavily. So epic, haha.

    As for The Two Princesses of Bamarre, I really did like it. It's great that Addie is the one of the adventure - and I like what Levine did with Meryl at the end. AND RHYS. I love Rhys. He's such a unique character and it made my day when I came across another chapter with him in it :D

    Have you read her Snow White retelling, Fairest? It's really, really good. I'm not a big Snow White person, but this version was so creative and lovable. If you read it, let me know what you think about it :D

  2. I loved Ella Enchanted as a girl! It was absolutely one of my favorites, though it's been ages since I last read it. The film, as someone expecting something completely different, disappointed me quite a lot, but I wasn't exactly an unbiased viewer.
    I love this new blog of yours!