Amy's Reviews > Bella at Midnight

Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley
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's review
Sep 20, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: books-i-have-re-read-time-and-time, favorites, favorite-fairy-tales

In many ways, I like the idea of leaving my review with the cryptic: "A well-thumbed favorite." Because that is a pretty good description. There is something charming about this book that belongs to who I am and what I was, especially as a young teenager.

Bella has been raised by peasants, the only family she knows. Life is simple, even her friendship from childhood with Prince Julian. As a fourth prince, he was shipped off as a youngster to live with his uncle and train to be a knight. But suddenly the world starts slipping, a horribly betrayal from Julian and a discovery that her parents aren't really her parents at all. She is a knight's daughter, sent away as a baby because the grieving man couldn't stand the sight of her. Now she is back, a thorn to her new step-mother, unwanted by her cold father. When a peace treaty is broken and Julian's life endangered, Bella must decide whether or not she will save her prince.

There is a kind of dorky "catcher" on the back of the book that says "Will The Worthy Knight appear in time to save Bella's prince?"
That is not a good description of this book.
Or maybe it is, if really wanted to take the entire plot of this book and put it into one sentence.
But I still don't like it.
I didn't really mention The Worthy Knight in my synopsis, because he is a part of the plot that is to intertwined not to talk about without giving away spoilers. But the way this book plays out is really cool.
Seriously, allow me to repeat a phrase I seem fond of:
I love this book.
I really do. "A well-thumbed favorite." It isn't very well known, especially as far as Cinderella-retellings go, and that really is a pity. It has the flavor of medieval historical fiction mixed with fairy-tale.
Bella...gosh I love her character. The story is told through many different voices, which surprisingly doesn't get to confusing. Bella's voice is so sweet. The story follows her from her birth, so you get some unique perspective as you watch her grow and change. She is strong, yet pure. Beautiful, though not traditionally (okay, I admit. She is a fellow red-head, I'd consider her beautiful even if they called her ugly!) I just love the innocence of her character.
Prince Julian also is an awesome character. I mean, he has his issues. You see how he changes, grows up, learns life lessons. (Despite what it may sound like, the book is only 278 pages)
Though they are the two "main" characters, there is a host of wonderful supporting cast. Because the story is told through multiple voices, you get to know a variety of people, from Bella's foster peasant Mom to her step-sisters.
The story tells about a girl "coming of age" in a way, trusting in God (not preachy, the little bits of Christianity are really neat)and intermixed with battles, disguises, the importance of family. It is an "innocent", book in a way, absolutely perfect for pre- and young teens. One of my favorites :)


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