This is a cute retelling of Cinderella for young adults that also includes elements of “You’ve Got Mail,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and Cinder.
It’s set in current day Charleston, South Carolina, where Danielle (“Elle”) Wittimer, 17, is part of “Starfield” fandom. (Starfield is a fictional Startrek-like series that, in this story, has been on the air in re-runs for forty years.). Elle writes a blog about Starfield, and she is extremely critical when Darien Freeman, 18, gets the movie role of Carmindor, the Federation Prince. She assumes he is just a shallow, spoiled movie star, and therefore an insult to fans who love the stories and characters so much.
In alternate chapters we hear from Darien, who actually is more like Elle than she thinks – he too watched the show religiously and it also filled a gap in his life. His mother had no interest in him, and his father, Mark, seems to care for Darien only as a commodity.
As for Elle, she is our Cinderella. When she is not being tormented by her evil stepmother and her twin daughters, Chloe and Calliope, she has to do chores and cleaning. She also has to have a job, in spite of all the money her stepmother was left when Elle’s father died. She works on a food truck called – wait for it – The Magic Pumpkin. Her boss is a girl around her age named Sage, who becomes her fairy godmother.
To promote the movie of Starfield, Darien is signed up to appear at the annual convention for Starfield fans – ExcelsiCon (coincidentally started by Elle’s late father). In addition, ExcelsiCon will host a fan competition for cosplay and a masquerade ball. (Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game.) The big prize is two tickets to the premiere of the Starfield movie and some cash.
Elle would love to win the cash so she could go out on her own when she turns 18 and get away from the stepmonster.
Before the ball, Elle and Darien inadvertently “meet” through texts, in a “You’ve Got Mail” kind of situation, and fall for each other. But neither knows the identity of the other; they refer to each other as Carmindor and Princess Amara.
At the ball, it all comes together as you would expect, except that Elle has to leave by midnight to get in before her curfew, and Darien doesn’t even know her name.
If you know the story of Cinderella, you won’t be surprised at the ending. But it is still entertaining, and a clever retelling.
Evaluation: Fans of comic cons and cosplay will especially love this adorable retelling for young adults.
Published by Quirk Books, 2017