Book Review: Before Midnight

I’ve decided to take on POPSUGAR’s 2015 Reading Challenge, starting right now. So I may reference it from time to time in my future posts, as I will be choosing books in order to fulfill the challenge. I have put the list on the sidebar of my homepage and I will be updating regularly to reflect my current status. This is where I stand currently with today’s read done:

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As you can see I still have a long way to go. But I am determined to get it done. Some of the reads will take me out of my comfort zone, like the play and graphic novel. As well the banned book may be tricky. Also 2015 is more than halfway done, so I will have to work fast, but I’m ready.

Back to my review…

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey (part of the Once Upon a Time series) is about a young girl named Constanze, more commonly referred to as Cendrillon (the French version of Cinderella) in the tale, who is neglected by her father after her mother dies giving birth to her. Before he abandons her to join the king and queen at court, he brings a young baby boy (eventually named Raoul) to also live on the estate, with no explanation about his past, and leaves the nanny, Old Mathilde, to watch over them in the stone house by the sea. He does not return for 17 years.

I like how Dokey incorporates magic into the novel. Its not typical magic that you may read about in other books, for example witches or sorceresses; it doesn’t always work when you want it to because it is born out of feelings (love, hate, anger, etc.). When Cendrillon’s mother dies in childbirth, her father Etienne de Brabant becomes angry, which causes him to slam his fists on his wife’s grave. After that point, no plant is able to grow on top of the grave because his anger and hate remains. And then Cendrillon makes a wish everyday on her birthday that what she plants on the grave will finally grow, but every year she finds the plants withered, dead or rotten. Old Mathilde says that they will not be able to grow until there is love.

“I can’t do it. I won’t ever be able to do it, will I?” I sobbed. “He hates me too much. What can grow amid so much hate?” – Cendrillon, Before Midnight, Cameron Dokey.

Out of anger for her wishes not being granted, she makes a wish for a mother to love her and that she will love in return, and two sisters, so that at least one would like her. Her wish eventually comes true, born from her anger. Eventually a stepmother and two stepsisters move into the stone house by the sea (Cendrillon’s father remains at court); and Cendrillon and Raoul’s lives are changed forever. It is a discovering for Raoul of where he came from, and for Cendrillon it is a discovering of her parents’ love and an understanding and awakening of her emotions (love, anger, grief, regret, etc.). Once she discovers her emotions, the magic of her wishes begins to finally work.

“What do you know about yourself? What are your stories? The ones you tell yourself, and the ones told by others. All of us begin somewhere. Though I suppose the truth is that we begin more than once; we begin many times. Over and over, we start our own tales, compose our own stories, whether our lives are short or long. Until at last all our beginnings come down to just one end, and the tale of who we are is done.” – Before Midnight, Cameron Dokey.

If you can’t already tell, this is a retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. But it is probably not the version you remember. This is not a modern retelling, no date is given in the novel, however judging from the descriptions of the characters and locations, it is definitely not present day.

In the Author’s Note, Dokey noted that when she started writing this book, she immediately read “Cinderella” in her copy of The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm. She was surprised to find that Cinderella’s father is still alive. She also consulted an even older version by French author Charles Perrault, and discovered the same thing that her father was very much alive. Both versions had the father fall under the control of his second wife and then disappear from the story. So Dokey used that concept of keeping the father in the tale, but having him as a dark figure, and often times in opposition to Cendrillon.

I give this book a 3 out of 5 because it started off really good. I got sucked in from the first few chapters. Its a really easy read, so you can finish fairly quickly. But I was sort of disappointed by the end. Some of the characters especially Cendrillon’s father I feel could have been developed a bit more. And some of the secondary characters like the King, Queen, and Prince were brought into the story fairly quickly with no real character development at all. The Queen just disappears at the end and you are not sure if she’s been imprisoned, dead or just roaming around the castle. And the Ball! I wanted more about the Ball! They go to the Prince’s Ball and then a page later its over. No description of the other ladies or their dresses, the layout of the ballroom, the dances, NOTHING! I wanted more.

Overall its a nice little story when you are looking for an easy read, that’s feel good and inspirational. But its not groundbreaking or memorable.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Before Midnight

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Golden | Tea and a Good Read

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Wild Orchid | Tea and a Good Read

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