This was an interesting variation on the Cinderella story that was also an exploration of grief and family dynamics. There once was a family with a mother and father and four daughters. When the father is swayed to evil by the wicked Prince, the family disintegrates. The Father abandons his family; the mother retreats to her weaving; and the daughters each grieve in their own way.The eldest sister becomes selfish and vain and the youngest becomes demanding and spoiled. It is left to the middle two daughters - Cinder and Ella - to try to hold the family together. Cinder in the caretaker; Ella chooses to emotionally retreat. When Cinder gets a job at the castle of the evil prince, she leaves Ella alone to care for her family. Ella runs away to look for a place where she is valued and loved but the evil Prince has other plans for her.For me, Ella was the star of this book. She is the one who acts and travels and learns and grows. She changes from being an indifferent sister to one who cares. She spends a good part of the first third of the book in tears (which made her unattractive to me). But once she decides on a course of action and gets to it, the tears go away and determination takes over. I grew to like her from a not-very-promising beginning.There is some romance and some humor in the story too. Ella relationship with the Knight Tanner provides much of both. Tanner is quite clumsy around Ella and she delights in teasing him about his clumsiness and his habit of getting lost. Fantasy lovers will enjoy this story for its rich language and underlying message.