Study Guide

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted Summary

In the land of Kyrria, Ella is born into a noble family. She immediately receives a visitor: the fairy Lucinda. Time to bestow some beauty, grace, and intelligence, right? Nope. Well-meaning but a little dim-witted, fairy Lucinda bestows upon her a "blessing": that she shall always be obedient.

Oops. Now anyone can order Ella to do anything, regardless of whether it's dangerous or in her best interests.

Things are okay, for while. Ella's mom protects her, obviously, and their cook Mandy just happens to be a fairy—although not a powerful one, so she can't do much about Ella's little spell-problem. Then, when Ella is almost fifteen, her mom dies. At her mother's funeral, Ella just so happens to meets Kyrria's prince, Charmont, who is (obviously) charming and handsome. They hit it off and pal around for a while before Ella's sent off to finishing school with two bratty girls, Hattie and Olive. And, surprise! Hattie and Olive become her stepsisters when their parents marry.

Ella runs away from finishing school (naturally) to find Lucinda, having adventures with elves, giants, ogres, and Prince Charmont (or Char, as he prefers to be called) along the way. (Speaking of Char—seems like someone might have a little crush.)

Char and Ella correspond while he's visiting another court and while she's confined to the family home, ordered to live in rags and act as a servant. By now, she's worked out that her obedience could a be a Big Problem to anyone who loves her—like a prince—because she could be ordered to betray him, or, say, slit his throat in the middle of the night.

Convinced that she has to break Char's heart in order to keep him safe, Ella tells him that she's eloped with some other dude. Still, she goes masked to the three balls his parents hold to help him find a bride. (What, no Match.com?) Surprise, surprise: Char seems fond of her masked alter ego.

When she's unmasked, he tells her that he still wants to marry her. Everyone pushes her to marry him—he does because he loves her; her stepfamily does because they want to get richer—but she realizes she can finally refuse an order, because she's doing it out of his best interests.

Woohoo! Spell broken. Now that she's not being forced into it, obviously she says yes. They live happily ever after.

  • Chapter 1

    • We begin:
    • Ella is born, and the fairy Lucinda visits Ella's mom, Lady Eleanor. Ella won't stop crying, so Lucinda has the bright idea to give her the gift of obedience. When she's told to stop crying, little baby Ella stops instantly.
      Great, right?
    • Not so much. Ella's mother and the cook Mandy realize that this is a Bad Idea, but Lucinda is still convinced it's the Best Gift in the History of Gifts.
    • We also learn that Ella's father is away on some trading expedition, as usual.
    • Ella's first memory of the curse is from her fifth birthday, when she's told to eat her birthday cake. She eats and eats until she starts crying, and then has to keep eating.
    • Finally, her mom gets that she has to tell Ella to stop, and does. Where's dad? Not there, as usual.
    • Fun facts about Ella's curse: she only has to follow a direct order ("Put on a shawl" rather than "I wish you would put on a shawl"), and while she can drag her feet instead of obeying right away, she gets dizzy, nauseated, and other unpleasant things.
    • Oh, yeah. And somebody could force her to harm or kill herself by simply telling her to do so. Stinks to be her.
    • Luckily, Ella has a fairy godmother, and Ella's mother has asked her to remove the spell. Unluckily, only the original fairy can fix it—and maybe Ella herself, someday.
    • Anyway, Ella grows up, and she's a little bit of a rebel. Maybe she's that way naturally, or maybe the curse makes her that way (which we totally get). You have to admit, the curse-thing is becoming kind of a problem for her.
    • Like, the cook (Mandy) bosses her around all the time. Okay, this isn't so bad: it's good-natured, and they always laugh and make up in the end.
    • But when a childhood friend finds out about Ella's curse, she bosses her around all afternoon. Obviously, Ella ends up punching her.
    • When Lady Eleanor finds out, she sends the friend away and orders Ella never to tell anyone about her curse. Sometimes honesty isn't the best policy.
    • When Ella is just about fifteen years old, she and her mom both get sick.
    • Mandy makes them a healing soup, but Ella's mom doesn't drink enough of it and just gets sicker.
    • Ella visits the king's old castle with its candelabra-shaped trees and prays for her mom to get better quickly.
    • Turns out, she was praying for the wrong thing: she should have been praying for her mother's life.
  • Chapter 2

    • This chapter opens with the funeral service for Ella's mother. Cheery.
    • Apparently, the High Chancellor's speech is pretty boring. Ella's weirded out to be around her father, who insists on holding her hand as though he hasn't ignored her for her entire life.
    • The casket is beautiful, with carvings of fairies and elves, but Ella isn't in much of a mood to appreciate it.
    • In fact, she breaks down crying in front of the whole court, and her father tells her to leave until she can be quiet.
    • Her father doesn't even know about the curse, because he's apparently kind of a dunce. Still, for once, she's happy to obey an order.
    • She runs into the graveyard and hugs a tree while thinking about all the stuff she misses doing with her mom, like sliding down banisters. Some mom, right?
    • Oh, surprise! The prince is hanging out there as well. He's two years older than her and tells her to call him Char, rather than Charmont (which we can all agree sounds rather stuffy).
    • The prince walks Ella back to her mother's grave. Along the way, he tells her that he always liked her mother; she used to make him laugh. Also, their cooks gossip together, so he's heard that Ella is funny and inventive and, oh yeah, clumsy.
    • Back at the grave, Ella's father calls her by her full name: Eleanor. It was also her mother's name. No way, she says: she's Ella.
    • She rips her skirt getting into the carriage, which the prince finds funny. Oh, yeah, hilarious. But it's okay: it's a nice laugh.
    • Ella's father seems keen on the fact that the prince was friendly to her but not too bummed that his wife is dead. Nice guy, eh?
  • Chapter 3

    • Ella's nice black silk mourning gown got all dirty while she was doing her tree-hugging at the funeral. Since they've got a bunch of important people coming over after the funeral, her father orders her to change into something clean.
    • Poor Ella just wants to stay in her room with her favorite dolls and miss her mommy, but her dad gave her an order.
    • She remembers Mandy and head maid Bertha talking about how her father is basically a horrible person: cold, selfish, and empty.
    • She knows he'd want her to wear a proper black mourning outfit, but instead she picks out a grasshopper green dress that her mother had loved (since she hated black clothing).
    • When Ella rejoins the party, she's immediately swooped into what is supposed to be a comforting hug by someone with chubby arms.
    • The owner of the arms is Dame Olga. She's got long wavy hair and wears a lot of blush. And she's got two daughters: Hattie, with very large teeth; and Olive, with thin curled hair and a constant frown.
    • Ella has to hang out with the girls while their parents talk, and it's not too fun. Hattie and Olive are totally obsessed with money.
    • Hattie counts the windows in each room, speculating on how much they all cost to install. Seriously? What teenage girl thinks about window installation costs?
    • Olive, who seems too stupid to count, just talks about how nice it is to be rich.
    • In an attempt to shut them up, Ella takes them over to the food. Hattie, after remarking on just how expensive quail eggs are, stuffs herself with them. Olive follows suit. It's pretty gross to watch.
    • Instead of watching this disgusting scene, Ella looks at the hunting scene on a rug. She has a weird experience where it actually seems to be alive—like, she can actually hear and smell the scene.
    • When everyone's gone home, Mandy and Ella have a chat. Mandy seems to feel sorry for the girls. (Good—that saves us the trouble.)
    • Then, Ella brings up the rug. Oh, Mandy says, all no big deal: it's a fairy rug.
    • Speaking of fairies, Ella says, does Mandy happen to know who her fairy godmother is?
    • Mandy hems and haws for a while before finally spitting it out.
    • Surprise! It's Mandy.
  • Chapter 4

    • Whoa nelly!
    • Ella eats the carrot soup just like Mandy has ordered her too, but her mind is totally blown by the news that Mandy is a fairy.
    • But if Mandy's a fairy, why did Ella's mom die? Mandy says that she didn't know how sick Ella's mom was until it was too late, and, anyway, even fairies can't stop someone from dying. 
    • Cue sobfest.
    • When they stop crying, Mandy says that she was also Ella's mom's fairy godmother. Ella is skeptical, since Mandy has frizzy gray hair and a double chin, and aren't fairies supposed to be young and beautiful?
    • Anyway, Ella asks Mandy to prove that she's a fairy by disappearing or something, and Mandy refuses. Apparently Lucinda (the fairy who "blessed" Ella with obedience) is the only one stupid enough to go around flaunting her powers like that.
    • Like Mandy, most fairies prefer to masquerade as human because (1) when people find out that someone's a fairy, they want the fairy to use their magic to fix everything, and (2) fairies are immortal, which humans hate.
    • Lady Eleanor had Mandy as a fairy godmother because the people in her family are official Friends of Fairies, and there aren't too many of them left.
    • Ella's mom's side of the family also has some fairy blood, but not enough to let them do magic or live forever. But she does have tiny fairy feet, lucky her! The small shoe sizes are always the only ones on sale.
    • Again, Ella asks Mandy to demonstrate her fairy powers, by, say stopping the rain. Mandy refuses because it's big magic, and big magic is dangerous. (Duh.)
    • See, you never know what the consequences of a magical act might be. Ella finally gets it: any time you perform magic, something could go wrong. Then you'd be responsible for trying to fix that, too.
    • Okay, back to Lucinda's spell. Mandy doesn't know how to break the spell, and she doesn't recommend that Ella ask Lucinda to do it, since, you know, Lucinda has already caused enough trouble.
    • If you haven't figured it out by now, Ella is a klutz. She drops a bowl, giving Mandy a chance to prove herself: she cleans it up with magic (small magic, not big magic, in case you're keeping track at home).
    • Here's a question for Mandy: can fairies see the future? Apparently not. You'll need to find a gnome if you have questions about the stock market.
    • Just as Ella is about to ask Mandy a zillion more questions, Bertha comes in to tell Ella that Sir Peter (her father) wants to see her.
    • Ella's dad shows her a tiny porcelain castle that is cleverly crafted and really beautiful. It's magnificent, but Sir Peter just sees it as one more object to sell.
    • The castle was made by the student of an elf sculptor named Agulen, whose stuff is in high demand. Ella's dad muses that maybe he can pass it off as an authentic Agulen piece.
    • Since he's obviously got an eye for these things, Sir Peter begins to look Ella over and muse about which features she got from him: some facial features, but also determination.
    • Once he has enough of that, he moves on to talking about Dame Olga's daughters. The nicest thing Ella can say about them is that they weren't very comforting. Her father finds this hilarious.
    • He also doesn't seem to care, because he suggests that Ella might go to finishing school with the girls.
    • This basically sounds like a nightmare to Ella, because she'd have to leave Mandy and be ordered to do things all the time.
    • Since Ella's father suggested that finishing school might teach her not to walk like an elephant, Ella retorts that perhaps elephants should not go to finishing school. This makes her father laugh again.
  • Chapter 5

    • The next night, Ella has to have dinner with her dad. Wearing a fancy dress. Obviously, this is not going to go well.
    • Sir Peter is drinking wine out of a pimpin' glass goblet. He holds it up so Ella can admire it, but she refuses to say anything beyond "it's pretty" since she knows he'll probably just sell it.
    • He thinks maybe she'll appreciate the goblet more if she sips wine from it. She starts to reach for it, then gets tripped up in her dress, and the goblet breaks and spills wine everywhere. D'oh.
    • Ella apologizes. Her dad snaps at her, then calms down and says they'll reconvene for dinner when they change their wine-stained clothes.
    • Sir Peter says it's his fault that she's grown up to be an oaf, since he neglected her (duh).
    • But this is going to have to change, since someday he'll want to take her into civilized company.
    • Ella protests that she doesn't like civilized company. Too bad—it might be important (for her dad) that civilized company like her.
      Therefore, off to finishing school with Ella.
    • She puts up a fight, but her dad lays down the law. See, he always gets his way, and things will go better for Ella if she doesn't fuss about it.
    • To Ella, Sir Peter seems like a carnival toy, a fist attached to a spring used to pummel puppets. (Something like this, maybe?) Ella doesn't know what'll happen if his spring uncoils, which is a scary thought. She relents.
    • Back in her room, Ella cuddles her dolls for comfort. Mandy comes in to give her tonic, a present, and some info about her presents.
    • First, the info: before Sir Peter married her mother, he was very sweet to her. He was also very poor. But now that he's rich, he's become kind of a jerk. Mandy cautions Ella to not let her father learn about the spell, since he'd use her.
    • Part one of the present is a book of fairy tales with beautiful illustrations.
    • Part two is her mom's necklace, a long woven thread of silver and pearls (made by gnomes). Mandy warns Ella to keep it hidden since it's valuable.
    • Hmm, a bit of foreshadowing there?
  • Chapter 6

    • Ella wakes up early, puts on her mom's necklace under a gown, and steals a few scones for breakfast. Delicious. She'd wanted to get an early start to say goodbye to her favorite places before being shipped off to boarding school.
    • She runs into her father (literally, of course), who tells her he doesn't have time for her, so go bang into someone else.
    • Magically compelled to do exactly that (thanks again, Lucinda), Ella bumps into Bertha the maid, then has breakfast with Mandy.
    • Ella goes to the royal menagerie, outside the king's walls. She visits a little dragon in a cage and some centaurs on an island.
    • Prince Charmont is there, also viewing the centaurs (they had human upper halves and horse legs, but lack human intelligence). He gives an apple to Ella to give to a centaur, who eats it.
    • Ella makes Char laugh by imitating a centaur in order to get him to give her an apple too. Which is… kind of creepy? Anyway, it works, because Char declares that he likes her.
    • Next, they visit the parrots. The parrots speak both human and magical tongues: Gnomic, Elfian, Ogrese, and Abdegi (the language the giants speak).
    • Ella's got a gift for languages, so she repeats phrases that they say in Gnomic. The Gnomic phrases look pretty funny on the printed page, and gauging by Char's difficulty in pronouncing them properly when he tries to imitate Ella, they sound funny too.
    • She says goodbye to the parrots in all of the languages she knows, and bids farewell to the bird keeper, Simon, too.
    • They go around to the ogre hut, which is guarded constantly. Ogres are apparently super-dangerous: they can know your secrets just by looking at you, and can speak so persuasively that you decide to not only befriend them but also offer yourself up as dinner (yum). Think Tolkienesque orcs but even creepier; or Shrek, but even less jovial.
    • But what's this? They hear a voice near the ogre hut that doesn't sound like an ogre. Turns out a gnome baby got lost and is in dire danger of becoming an ogre snack.
    • Char picks up the squirmy little dude, and Ella offers to hold him and talk to him in Gnomic to calm him down.
    • Meanwhile, the ogre cracks up when he looks at Ella. We don't get a translation of what he says in Ogrese, but it seems like he realizes what her deal is and finds it hilarious.
    • In Kyrrian (the common tongue), the ogre tells Ella to bring him the gnome baby.
    • The ogre doesn't even bother to use his persuasive voice, but Ella still has to do it. She manages to resists the order briefly because there's another life at stake, but her legs give in and she begins walking toward the ogre, i.e. certain death.
  • Chapter 7

    • Char flips out and asks Ella where she's going. She replies that she must go. He commands her to stop, and that does the trick: she stops.
    • He asks Ella what the blazes she thinks she was doing. She has to lie, since she's forbidden to reveal that she's under a spell, and she comes up with a half-hearted explanation having to with something about the ogre's eyes.
    • Char goes all contemplative thinking about whether he should have a convo with his father (you know, the king) if the ogres are finding new ways to threaten humans.
    • Meanwhile, the gnome baby is flipping out since Ella has been squeezing him while attempting to resist the spell. She calms him down with some Gnomic.
    • They locate the gnome's family, and Grandma Gnome is super grateful. (She has a name, zhatapH, but obviously it's easier to call her Grandma Gnome.) Anyway, Grandma Gnome asks how they got the baby to go with them, since he wouldn't go with most humans.
    • Ella says the one phrase she knows in Gnomic, and they translate it as "Digging is good for the wealth and good for the health."
    • It turns out, Grandma Gnome has some advice for Ella: she says that the baby gnome is not the only one Ella will save; she will face danger and a quest, and there will be three figures that are close to her but not friends.
    • Basically: proceed with caution.
    • Before they leave, Char says he's going to add more guards to watch the ogres. Oh, and he'll catch a centaur to give to Ella. Sweet!
    • Section break: Dame Olga comes to fetch Ella and put her in the carriage with Hattie and Olive to go to finishing school.
    • Hattie and Dame Olga sneer about how few things Ella has. In fact, she has fewer trunks of clothes than Hattie. Gasp!
    • Cue the awkward goodbyes. Ella hugs Mandy and doesn't want to let her go; Mandy reassures Ella that she'll be fine.
    • Hattie haughtily says that she would never hug a cook. Well, duh, Ella says: no cook would let her.
    • Ugh, we hate this part: Hattie and Olive find out about Ella's mother's necklace, and Hattie orders her to give it over. Because Olive also orders Ella to let her try it on, and Hattie orders the necklace returned to her, Hattie somehow works out that Ella has to follow orders.
    • Poor Olive, alas, is too stupid to work this out for herself.
    • Hattie tells Ella to let her have the necklace as a gift because they're friends (yeah, right). Ella has no choice but to comply.
    • Being a snob yet again, Hattie remarks on how dusty the carriage is. She orders Ella to pick up a dust ball—which Ella happily does and then grinds into Hattie's face. (Hey, she didn't order her not to.)
    • That's the last satisfaction Ella is going to get for a while.
  • Chapter 8

    • Hattie may not like having a face full of dust, but she sure likes knowing that Ella has to do whatever she says.
    • Meanwhile, Ella tries to make herself take the necklace back, but she can't.
    • Thankfully, Hattie falls asleep. Olive pesters Ella for a present to show that they're friends, too, so Ella gives Olive a silver KJ (the local currency) from the bag of money her father had given her.
    • Olive dozes off, too, so Ella can finally take out Mandy's book of fairy tales from Mandy.
    • That's weird. There's an illustration of Mandy chopping a turnip, and Mandy is crying.
    • This starts Ella crying too, although she eventually gets a handle on herself because she refuses to cry in front of Hattie and Olive (even if they're sleeping).
    • The next illustration in the book is of Char talking to the guards who had been at the ogre hut.
    • The following pages are about the legend of "Sir Peter of Frell," showing a picture of Ella's dad riding a coach to his next trading destination.
    • Hm, we're getting the feeling that this isn't exactly an ordinary book.
    • Next is an actual fairy tale, "The Shoemaker and the Elves," but it's told from the elves' point of view and is much more complex.
    • Hattie wakes up and orders Ella to give her the book. By then, it's turned into boring factual-sounding stories, so Hattie gives it back (whew).
    • More trouble ahead.
    • When they reach an inn for the night, Hattie informs Ella that since she took up the space in the carriage meant for their maid, she can basically be their maid. And she can start by taking off Hattie's slippers.
    • Boy, do Hattie's feet stink. Once the slippers are off, Ella tosses them out the window. She's ordered to go fetch them from where they fell into a bucket of slops (that is, gross water). Still, Hattie has to wear the shoes till she can get out new ones. Lesson one: be more careful with the orders.
    • At breakfast the next morning, Hattie orders Ella not to eat her porridge or the bread that follows. Ella manages to defy her long enough to choke down a bite of bread, though, which is her only food on the three-day journey. At least she has Mandy's fairy Tonic to keep her healthy (Hattie insisted on trying it, but apparently didn't like it).
  • Chapter 9

    • On the last day of their journey to Jenn (where the finishing school is), it's so hot that Hattie's only command to Ella is to fan her.
    • Olive wants to be fanned, too.
    • Olive has worked out that Ella will do what Hattie says, and that Olive can command Ella to do something for her that she's already doing for Hattie.
    • That seems to be about as far as Olive's mental capacities extend.
    • Ella's stomach and arms are hurting, and she wishes something would happen to distract Hattie.
    • Surprise! Some ogres show up. Okay, not exactly what she had in mind, but it'll do for now.
    • The ogres call out with sweet words and promises, and the coach starts to slow down. Fortunately some sheep start bleating loudly enough to cover the ogres' honeyed voices. Ella recovers her wits and shouts at everyone to yell as loudly as possible.
    • The yelling drowns out the ogres, and the coach escapes. Olive, of course, continues to scream even after the threat is gone. The coachman even has to slap her to get her to quiet down, although he apologizes later.
    • Whew. Finally, they've arrived at finishing school. It's a large wooden house with bushes pruned to look like girls in big, flowing skirts.
    • After Ella introduces herself to the headmistress, Madame Edith, she hands over the letter from her father and a large pouch of money.
    • Maybe Ella can finally get something to eat, now? Nope. They've missed lunch, and it's time for an embroidery lesson.
    • The girls join up with the other pupils. Everyone's wearing pink gowns and yellow hair ribbons, and Ella is aware of how dirty and rumpled she must look.
    • Sitting down, Ella meets the eyes of a girl who smiles and winks at her. Then she's given some embroidery to work on, but she's never done it in her life, so obviously she's terrible at it.
    • The Sewing Mistress marvels at Ella's lack of sewing skills, speculating about whether she'd been raised by ogres.
    • The girl who'd smiled at Ella offers advice and help. She's got an ornately braided hairstyle and skin the color of cinnamon. She's from Ayortha, the next kingdom over, and her name is Areida.
    • Ella greets her in Ayorthaian, gambling on a phrase she'd learned from a parrot. Luckily it turned out to be polite, and Areida starts teaching her more of the language.
    • The Sewing Mistress is appalled that Ella's only done three stitches (ugly, messy ones at that) in all this time, so she sends Ella to bed without dinner. Because that makes sense. Not.
    • Hattie smirks at the punishment, prompting Ella to announce that she wasn't hungry anyway. Big mistake. Now she'll get no breakfast, either.
  • Chapter 10

    • A maid shows Ella to her room, but first they pass by all these other rooms that are color-themed (the Lime Room, etc). Ella is going to be in the Lavender Room, in which everything is some tint of lavender. EVERYTHING. We sure hope it's a good color for her
    • She naps in a chair, and Areida smuggles her a roll from dinner. We like this girl already.
    • Some other girls come in and make fun of Areida's Ayorthaian accent (pronouncing "l" like "y"). Ugh. Not cool, girls. Ella calls the lead mean girl a name in Ayorthaian meaning "tall girl" but since it sounds exotic, everyone thinks it's an insult.
    • Madame Edith lectures Ella for her unseemly behavior, then tells everyone to get into their nightdresses because the "Shores of Sleep" approach
    • That's a direct quote. We can't make up something so corny.
    • Since Ella can't sleep, she reads her fairy tale book, which is evidently a lot more like email than an actual book. In it is a letter from Mandy, saying that Simon the parrot man brought her a parrot for a pet.
    • Oh, and Char showed up with a centaur colt for Ella. He didn't know that Ella was sent to finishing school, so he was a little ticked off about that. He offers to raise the centaur for her while she's away. Its name is Apple. You know, because he gave her an apple?
    • Obviously, Ella starts bawling.
    • The next day, Ella's teachers slowly begin to whip her into shape (not literally; the school's not that bad.)
    • Music Mistress orders her to match notes until she's singing on key. Dancing Mistress tells her to step lightly. Sewing Mistress orders Ella to make her stitches smaller, which she does, but she ends up stabbing herself a lot in the process. Manners Mistress is fond of saying that whatever they're doing would horrify the king.
    • Okay, that one doesn't horrify her too much, since Ella is already BFFs with the prince.
    • Every day, Ella's prodded into shape. Her spell doesn't mean she can do it all on autopilot, though; she has to concentrate on all the orders to make sure she's fulfilling each of them.
    • The only stuff she's actually good at is composition, math, and languages. (You know, the things that might actually matter?) Writing Mistress gives her a dictionary of exotic speech, which she studies endlessly. She even practices Ogrese, despite how nasty it sounds
    • Ella is pretty much awful at everything for the first month. By the second month, however, her spell has molded her into someone who's polite, delicate, and quiet. In other words, totally unlike herself.
    • Obviously, Ella hates being forced to be like that, so she dreams about smashing china and instigating food fights.
  • Chapter 11

    • Areida is pretty much the only cool girl at school. Hattie's friends are just the worst.
    • Like Blossom, niece and sole heir to an unmarried duke, who can't stop worrying about him marrying someone who pops out a kid and displacing her.
    • Or a duke's daughter, Delicia, who only opens her big mouth to complain about something.
    • Ella's teachers like her at first because she improves so quickly, but they stop liking her when she figures out tiny ways to rebel.
    • Well, Ella doesn't like these minor rebellions, either, but it's her only way of not feeling like a tool, you know?
    • Hattie occasionally orders Ella to meet her in the garden so she can secretly issue orders.
    • On the first of these occasions, Hattie commands Ella to gather her a bouquet. Turn out, it's useful to have hung out with a fairy cook. Ella picks beautiful blossoms and a sprig of bogweed (very carefully).
    • As soon as Hattie inhales the bogweed's scent, she goes blank and Ella can ask her any question she wishes. Guess it's like a truth spell.
    • First, why is Hattie so meal to Ella? Turns out, she's jealous of her.
    • Unfortunately, this doesn't really help Ella figure out how to get Hattie to stop bossing her around, and Hattie nastily pulls Ella's hair after this little incident.
    • Hattie mostly makes Ella do chores, but Ella has her revenge by sneaking spiders and mice into her bed (having learned under the influence of bogweed that Hattie's afraid of them).
    • Mostly, Ella hangs out with Areida. They talk about their lives; Areida's not from a rich family, which is one reason the other girls are mean to her.
    • But Areida is also kind. When one of the mean girls gets sick from gorging on grapes (really, that can happen?), Areida takes care of her all night.
    • One day Ella tells Areida about her mother. Areida sings a mourning song from Ayortha, which comforts Ella even though it also makes her cry.
    • They're late for Manners class because Ella doesn't want to go in looking like she's just cried. You know, that'd be like voluntarily bleeding in front of sharks.
    • Manners Mistress, of course, tells them that the king would disapprove, which makes them crack up. They pass Hattie, who tells Ella to meet her in the garden the next day.
    • Hattie says that Ella should stop associating with Areida because she's low class. When Ella refuses, Hattie orders her to end their friendship.
  • Chapter 12

    • Ella is devastated. She'd imagined Hattie doing embarrassing and even painful things to her, but she never anticipated this.
    • She tries to think of a way to not hurt Areida's feelings. Pretend she's lost her voice so they can't talk anymore? Nope, one of the teachers would eventually order her to speak. And she can't explain to Areida about the curse since she's still following her mother's order to never tell anyone about it.
    • Ella has to cancel her study date with Areida, saying that she's tired. No problem, Areida says. They can catch up tomorrow.
    • Before going to bed, Ella cracks open the fairy tale book and—this is weird. She sees a letter from Dame Olga to her daughters. It's tedious and full of details about fancy-schmancy social events, as well as some speculation on just how rich Sir Peter is.
    • There's just one tiny detail that doesn't add up. Dame Olga says that she hopes Hattie had found someone trustworthy to style her hair. 
    • Hm.
    • Olive certainly doesn't need someone to help as her hair's very thin.
    • And Hattie had attacked Ella's hair after the bogweed incident.
    • Ah ha! Ella has figured it out. Hattie and Dame Olga wear wigs.
    • The book also shows Char training the centaur, and it contains a letter he'd written to his father. 
    • Okay, seriously, this is a little creepy. Spying isn't cool, guys.
    • Anyway, Char talks about an expedition against the ogres, but also mentions Ella and the fact that he's bummed about her going to finishing school.
    • There's also a letter from Ella's father to his steward, mostly describing how the elves are bad traders and won't even bring out an authentic Agulen sculpture.
    • That letter further details Sir Peter's plans to go to a giant wedding at the house of a giant named Uaaxee. Sir Peter thinks that a few fairies might be there, and maybe he can trade with them.
    • Fairies, you say? Ella's wheels start churning. Maybe Lucinda will be there, and maybe Ella could beg her to remove the spell.
    • She reasons through the fact that she hadn't promised to stay at finishing school, merely to go. She also hadn't been ordered to stay put.
    • Plus if she leaves, Areida won't realize that Ella is forbidden to be her friend.
    • That seals it. Ella packs up and heads out, stealing Hattie's wig for good measure.
  • Chapter 13

    • Ella creeps away from the finishing school before dawn. She trades the wig for supplies from a baker, and gets directions to Uaaxee's farm (or rather, to the giant farms somewhere to the north).
    • She travels happily by herself. It's awesome, because no one is around to give her orders.
    • Unfortunately, her supply of food doesn't last very long. She makes it to the edge of the elves' Forest just as she runs out, and meets an elf.
    • All that language-studying comes in handy, because she's able to have a short convo with him.
    • Turns out, the elf knows her father (potentially unlucky), but (luckily) realizes that Ella doesn't take after him.
    • So, he takes her home and she parties with the elves for the night. They have green skin and mossy hair but are otherwise humanlike.
    • They feed her mostly vegetarian dishes, and she shares her fairy tale book with them. This is a hit, because apparently reading stories about elves when you're an elf is hilarious)
    • The head trader elf, Slannen, shows Ella some Agulen ceramics. They're gorgeous, and the elves give her a cup in the form of a wolf's head. She tries to refuse the gift because it's too valuable, but the elves tell her that they sometimes give away things to people who appreciate them.
    • Take that, Sir Peter.
    • The elves give Ella a pony and a bunch of supplies, saying she would reach the giants in a few days.
    • But that's only if her luck holds, and we're going to guess that it doesn't.
  • Chapter 14

    • And, in fact, her luck ends pretty quickly.
    • The next morning, Ella's woken up by an ogre poking her with a stick and musing aloud on how to eat her.
    • Oh, the pony? He's just a pile of bones.
    • Ella understandably wants to vomit. The ogres (yep, there's a group of them) complain that this'll make her taste sour.
      Again: those language studies sure come in handy.
    • The ogre who'd caught her (SEEf) wants to eat her himself, but another ogre wants him to share, so they fight until Ella nearly manages to run away.
    • Unfortunately, they tell her to stop—and she has to.
    • (You'd think Lucinda could have put a "No Ogres" clause in that little gift of her, right?)
    • Anyway, they eventually decide to bring Ella along and eat her later. They get tired of carrying her pretty quickly, though, and think maybe they'd better gobble her up to lighten the load.
    • There's one nice (kind of) ogre, NiSSh. He defends Ella by saying that she probably tastes bad, anyway, and then actually leaves Ella untied at night. Awesome!
    • Not so much, because he orders her not to run away. Well, she still tries, but the spell thwarts her attempts: it turns her around, makes her fall to her knees, and so on.
    • Hey, brain flash! Maybe if she can speak Ogrese as persuasively as they can, she can convince them to let her go.
    • Ella's voice isn't quite right, so she imagines swallowing honey and oil to make her words sweet and practices their language until she falls asleep.
    • The next morning, NiSSh wakes her up. The ogres immediately argue about who gets to eat what part of her.
    • Meanwhile, she tries to talk them out of eating her, saying in Ogrese that they're not really hungry—in fact, they're quite full.
    • Ella finally convinces the ogres that they're stuffed from their last meal and their best option is to sleep it off. 
    • It's awesome to be giving the orders for once.
  • Chapter 15

    • Okay, great. The ogres are asleep, but there are still eight of them. And she can't leave, because she's still under orders to stay with them. What to do?
    • Just then, a twig snaps. Enter Char leading six knights carrying rope. They start tying up the ogres, but SEEf wakes up and is like, yo, what are you guys doing?
    • His persuasive speech powers don't affect Char, but the other ogres are starting to wake up and get feisty.
    • Char asks Ella (in a strangely loud voice) whether she could tame the ogres again; if not, she should run for her life. Ella manages to convince the ogres that the prince and his men must bind the ogres before bringing them tasty treats.
    • The ogres suddenly think that sounds like a great idea, and the men manage to get them bound and gagged.
    • That actually went much better than it usually does for murderous orcs.
    • Ella and Char start talking, except Char can't hear her until he remembers to take the wax out of his ears.
    • Oh, smart! That's why his voice was so loud; plugging their ears gives them an edge when facing ogres.
    • One of the knights, when scouting, had seen Ella being held captive, and then talking them out of eating her. Char asks how she did it, and she joked that she told them about finishing school, which was so boring it put them to sleep.
    • Oh, about finishing school: she's actually run away. She tries to make Char laugh by giving him a lesson on how to eat properly using imaginary silverware, and her talk of mutton forks vs. trout forks is funny enough that Char does indeed laugh.
    • He thinks it's particularly funny that Manners Mistress says that his father is such a stickler for manners that he'll exile people who ate the wrong soup from the wrong bowl.
    • Char introduces Ella to his knight buddies, saying she's the one he'd told them about who also speaks Gnomic. So either Ella's language skills are that impressive, or Char has a crush on her. (Or, okay, maybe both.)
    • After Char tells the ogres that they won't be killed as long as they behave, they start struggling. Ella gleefully tells them that they won't be eating her, at least.
    • Time for lunch! Ella notices that nobody eats until Char does. Hey, sometimes it's good to be the king. Er, future king.
    • Char says that his dad, King Jerrold, will be thrilled that they've captured so many orcs. Ella worries that she'll be ordered to return to the castle with them to keep the ogres placated, thus missing her chance to hit up a fairy at the wedding.
    • Finally, Char decides to split the group, and have one of the knights, Sir Stephan, escort Ella to her destination.
    • Time to 'fess up; Ella says that she's going to a giant's wedding to meet her father, and then immediately worries that Prince Char will think she's an idiot for risking her life over something so inconsequential. Well, he sure does thinks highly of her for taming the ogre.
    • As soon as they get her on Sir Stephan's horse, however, her curse begins acting up, since technically she's still under the ogre's command to not leave. She invents an excuse about being worried to leave them, at which point Char tells her it's fine and to go with the knight.
    • Great, now they can be on their way. Hm. It sure does seem like Char wants to see her again, though.
  • Chapter 16

    • Sir Stephan is a talkative fellow, so Ella learns all about his family, his dogs, etc. Sounds fascinating. Well, it's probably better than trout forks.
    • Ella is worried about missing the wedding, but her horse refuses to go any faster.
    • While they chat, Ella asks Sir Stephan what it's like to serve under Char. Apparently, it's not bad at all; the prince is a quick learner and kind-hearted. A bit on the serious side, but Sir Stephan has noticed that Ella sure seems to cheer him up.
    • See (says Sir Stephan), Ella acts natural, not like a courtier at all. Take that, Manners Mistress!
    • At night, Ella reads her fairy tale book and sees letters from Hattie and Olive to their mother, Dame Olga.
    • With unnecessary flourishes and misspellings, Hattie's letter complains (of course) that Ella was devious and deceitful despite how nice Hattie was to her. Ha. Right.
    • Olive's letter is poorly written to the point of almost being incomprehensible. She wishes Ella had taken her with her, or that people would at least follow her orders.
    • The next thing Ella reads is a story about the genie in Aladdin's lamp. What's weird is that the story focuses on how sad the genie is that he's forced to leave his lover and serve everyone who holds the lamp.
    • Gee, sounds a lot like Ella's situation. So much like it, in fact, that she starts crying.
    • By the third morning, things in the landscape are getting distinctly bigger: pumpkins as tall as Ella, or as big as carriages. (Guess we know where Cinderella's godmother got her pumpkin-carriage.
    • Whoa! You guys, we just got it: "Cinder Ella." Ella.
    • Anyway, moving on. They meet a giant who offers to take them to Uaaxee's farm for the wedding. See, giants are so kind and generous that they just love to meet strangers.
    • When they see the house about an hour before reaching it (that's how big it is!) Ella starts to get nervous. Her chance at freedom is approaching.
  • Chapter 17

    • The giantess Uaaxee enthusiastically greets her new arrivals. Sir Stephan bows out, saying he'd just escorted Ella there. Ella says her father is Sir Peter, but she wants to keep her arrival a secret so she can surprise him. Uaaxee agrees; giants dig surprises.
    • Ella wanders into the crowd, wondering how she'll find Lucinda—or any other fairies. Guess she'll have to start checking their feet, since fairies have tiny feed.
    • She comes to a stool laden with food for people her size, so she grabs a huge potato slice, a cheese puff the size of her face, and three string beans, a foot long each.
    • Huh. What a weird collection of food.
    • After she eats, a gong summons everyone to the wedding. Ella finds a place in the stands where she can watch ladies lift their skirts to ascend the steps.
    • She watches a lot of regular feet go by, and then sees two pairs of tiny feet. They belong to two ladies, escorted by a gentleman (who might also be a fairy, but male fairies tend to wear normal-sized shoes and stuff them full).
    • The male fairy and one of the women look like ordinary people, but the other female fairy is exquisitely beautiful.
    • Ella settles in to watch the wedding, but keeps her eye on the fairy-suspects.
    • The bride and groom plant a sack of corn during the wedding ceremony, then pantomime raising children and growing old together (with volunteers from the audience standing in as their future kids). They lay down in the grass together to show growing old and dying together.
    • Aw, that's kind of sweet.
    • The ceremony ends, and everyone congratulates the bride and groom.
    • The beautiful fairy appears to be giving them a blessing, except they don't look too happy about it. It must be Lucinda! Ella makes her way over, only to see the fairy vanish.
    • This confirms that it's Lucinda, since no other fairy does showy magic-like disappearances.
    • Ugh. Ella is bummed that she missed her chance to talk to Lucinda, so she wanders around the reception trying to regroup. She thinks maybe it'll help if she can locate the other fairies.
    • As she walks up to them, Lucinda appears again.
    • The male fairy (who we learn is named Cyril) berates Lucinda for recklessly disappearing in a crowd, and the female fairy (Claudia) asks what gift she gave the couple.
    • Lucinda explains that she blessed the couple with being together always: they cannot leave each other's presence.
    • Cyril and Claudia roll their eyes and explain why this is literally the worst wedding present ever. Everyone needs some alone time, you know?
    • In fact, Claudia predicts all giants will elope from now on rather than risk receiving such a "blessing." Cyril challenges Lucinda to visit the couple in a year and see how the couple is doing.
    • Lucinda says she will return and she will be right and—suddenly she sees Ella looking intently at her and asks what she's staring at.
  • Chapter 18

    • Cyril huffs that Ella is probably yet another person who's come to ask Lucinda to take back a blessing given at birth.
    • Claudia asks Lucinda not to turn her into a squirrel like she did to another one.
    • Ella realizes she is in danger of becoming a squirrel, or worse, so she thinks fast.
    • Pretending to speak only Ayorthaian, Ella says that she was admiring Lucinda's beauty and wondering whether she was a fairy.
    • Lucinda proudly introduces herself, but Cyril and Claudia cut her off before she can out them too, saying that they're just shoemakers.
    • Ella carefully words her request to Lucinda: she's always been meek and would like more mettle.
    • Lucinda recognizes Ella as someone "blessed" with obedience, and tells Ella to be happy with her blessing. As in, Lucinda orders Ella to be happy about being forced to follow orders.
    • Before Ella can protest, the order takes hold and suddenly she's overjoyed at how things have worked out.
    • Then Lucinda tells Ella to run along, so she does (literally). As she's running, she realizes that anyone could order her to kill herself, and that now she'll have to do it with a smile on her face.
    • Better or worse than becoming a squirrel? Discuss.
    • Ella finds her father, and he's pleased (and a tad surprised) at how polite and obedient she is.
    • As they head back to their home, dear old dad drops a bomb: he's been financially ruined. They'll have to sell everything. Including her. So, he's going to marry her off to anyone rich enough to save the family.
    • Thanks to Lucinda's new spell, Ella is delighted to hear this.
    • Her dad is totally surprised. It's no wonder she ran away from finishing school, he thinks, if this is what was done to her.
    • Once home, Mandy hugs Ella enthusiastically. Her new parrot is speaking Gnomic. Ella feels comfortable and loved.
    • Her father announces that he'll be away on business, but that they'll be entertaining the following evening. He'll have Elvish mushrooms sent for Mandy to cook for Ella and the dinner guest.
    • The dinner guest, it turns out, might be Ella's future husband. Ella expresses joy about this fact to Mandy, who freaks out on her behalf.
    • Mandy interrogates Ella and finds out that she'd met Lucinda, who'd added some component of happiness to her obedience spell.
    • Mandy tries to act less horrified about this for Ella's sake, and they talk alone over dinner after Sir Peter dismisses all the other servants.
    • The next day, the Elvish mushrooms arrive (they're called torlin kerru, which translates to justice or fairness mushrooms; they're often consumed at legal settlements to inspire feelings of like and love among those eating them).
    • Mandy cannot believe that Ella's father would try to influence her into wanting to marry someone. She stalks out, ordering Ella to keep an eye on the soup.
    • This is kind of a disaster, because the parrot keeps telling Ella to kiss him. She has to run around trying to kiss the bird while minding the soup.
    • Finally, Mandy comes home with some regular mushrooms to cook. But Ella's father is mad when he gets home and finds out what's been going on. He orders Mandy to cook the mushrooms, and tells Ella to stop acting like a cook's helper.
  • Chapter 19

    • The dinner guest is an earl named Edmund. Ella's heard of him; he's the uncle of Hattie's finishing school friend, Blossom.
    • He's also old and thin and gray-haired. When he compliments Ella's needlework, comparing it to his mother's, she sees how tiny his teeth are, and gets a funny mental image of him as a toddler in his mother's lap.
    • The men talk about the proper punishment for bandits; Ella's father favors the death penalty, while the earl is more merciful. Ella sides with the earl, and her father makes a point of saying how well the two of them would go together.
    • The Elvish mushrooms are served in the first course accompanying quail eggs. Ella eats them, but her father doesn't, nor does the earl (he says mushrooms make him sick). Probably a wise move.
    • As the evening progresses, Ella starts getting all gooey over the earl. (Thanks, Elvish mushrooms.)
    • The earl compliments Sir Peter on raising such a lovely daughter. Ella's awkward fifteen-year-old attempts at flirtation become more bold, until she says that she's enamored of the earl and hopes to see him again.
    • Once Ella's in bed, she gushes to Mandy about how dreamy the earl is and how she can't wait to see him again. Mandy is understandably less than thrilled about all this.
    • As Ella drifts off to sleep, she imagines stories in which the early is the hero and she's the heroine. But, just before she falls asleep, Char's pretty face pops up.
    • The next morning, Mandy wakes Ella up, wanting to know why Lucinda updated her curse.
    • Hey! Turns out, it wasn't a new spell after all—just a command to be happy about being obedient.
    • Great. All Mandy needs to do is tell Ella to stop being happy about following orders, so she does.
    • Ugh. Now Ella feels sickened by the way she acted last night. (We would, too.)
    • There's a letter from her father, and she freaks out when reading it: what if he orders her to marry the earl?
    • She carries the letter to Mandy, who's gathering chicken eggs, so that Mandy can read the letter without relaying any direct orders.
    • Fortunately, Sir Peter found out that the earl's wealth had been lost in a fire, so Ella doesn't have to marry him. Phew!
    • Oh, also? Sir Peter has found a lady who's wealthy enough to save the family. And she just might marry him.
    • Who is this mystery woman? Dame Olga.
  • Chapter 20

    • And here's Dame Olga herself, smothering Ella with a hug and telling her to call her Mum Olga. The wedding's in a week, in order to give Hattie and Olive time to return from finishing school.
    • They won't be going back afterward, because apparently they're finished enough.
    • Ella is grossed out by the PDAs between Sir Peter and Dame Olga. Luckily, she doesn't have to see much of either, as the couple spends the most time at Dame Olga's place (Sir Peter's place is a wreck since he's selling everything to take care of his debts).
    • Ella spends time with Mandy, and the two hide her mother's dresses to keep Sir Peter from selling them.
    • She also spends a lot of time with her centaur, Apple, talking to him even though he can't understand her.
    • The wedding's held in an old castle instead of the manor, with a masked ball to follow.
    • Ella stands around outside rather than face certain guests. As soon as she gets inside, Hattie runs up to hug her.
    • Nuh-uh. Afraid that Hattie will utter a command, Ella threatens to remove and parade around with her wig in front of everyone if Hattie speaks to her at all.
    • Weirdly, Olive clings to Ella and wants to sit with her in the ceremony.
    • The ceremony, conducted by High Chancellor Thomas (same dude who'd buried Ella's mom) is boring. Naturally. During it, however, Ella catches sight of Lucinda.
    • Afraid that the fairy would be mad at Ella for pretending to be Ayorthaian, Ella keeps her mask on.
    • Lucinda gets up at the end of the speech and declares that she'll give the couple a gift that isn't harmful or foolish: eternal love. As long as they're alive, they'll love each other.
    • Hm, that sounds pretty good, actually.
  • Chapter 21

    • Ella watches as her father's facial expression changes from horror to adoration. She takes the opportunity to sneak out of the hall, wondering whether the gift is going to turn out to be a good thing, after all.
    • Just then, Char shows up. He's heard about a secret passage under the castle, and they decide to go look for it rather than attend the masked ball.
    • Char and Ella explore, looking for hidden panels and stuff like that. Ella tells Char that the reason she was hiding was to escape temptation… the temptation to slide down the stair rail!
    • This makes Char laugh, because evidently his sense of humor is not too highly developed.
    • While exploring yet more backrooms and stairways, Char starts pulling buttons off his doublet to mark their progress.
    • These two, you guys. Is it a match made in heaven, or what?
    • They find a tower room with a hidden box. In it are some old gardening supplies and a pair of glass slippers. Ella worries that she'll break them, but she has to put them on when Char tells her too.
    • No breaking. In fact, they're surprisingly supple and flexible.
    • Char and Ella dance to the sounds of the orchestra below. She feels all a-quiver at his touch.
    • They chitchat about his ogre catching adventures and her desire to not return to the ball. Ella tells him about the fairy gift to her father and his new wife.
    • They agree that it would stink to be forced to marry someone you don't love, but it also stinks to be coerced into love.
      In fact, coercion is just a Bad Thing all around.
    • Speaking of coercion, Char says that he's off to Ayortha for a year, as it's a custom for their young royals to live in each other's courts. He promises to write.
    • From where they are in the tower, they can see the guests leaving. Ella wants to wait to go downstairs until Lucinda is gone.
    • On the way down, they slide down the stair rails. A lot. With much laughter.
    • Sir Peter, Mum Olga, and the girls catch them in the act but are too stunned to say anything. When Char does see them, he cracks up and can't stop laughing even when trying to formally say goodbye. So much for royal etiquette.
  • Chapter 22

    • After Char leaves, Sir Peter remarks that Ella's made another conquest. Ella retorts that the first conquest wasn't hers, and this one's not going anywhere because Char's leaving for a year.
    • On the carriage ride back to the manor, Mum Olga asks her new husband just how rich they are now. Sir Peter stalls by saying just as rich as they were before, but finally he has to tell the truth: actually, they're poor.
    • Mum Olga is not pleased. (Also, we were wondering how Sir Peter convinced him to marry her: guess he lied.) She takes Ella's bag, rummages around for precious items without finding much, and then tries to wrench Ella's bracelet off her.
    • Mum Olga says that she won't have Ella living like a lady in her house; she'll need to earn her keep.
    • Sir Peter tells Mum Olga to treat Ella well, but the look in her eyes says that ain't gonna happen.
    • Hattie begins with the atrocious orders just as Ella had feared.
    • When Char comes calling, Hattie forbids Ella from going to meet him.
    • This happens twice, and Hattie says that she's begun to win him over, based on the fact that he'd said he would remember their conversation forever.
    • Ella sees Char's journal entry in her fairy book. In it, he wonders why Ella's avoiding him and remarks on how large Hattie's teeth are and how endless her chatter was.
    • Ella is determined to write to Char to explain the misunderstanding, especially now that she won't see him for a year. She deliberates over how to start the letter—they're on a first name basis, but does she still have to address him as Prince?—but finally she writes to him about being confined to her room, fibbing a bit and saying that her father was angry at her for leaving the wedding early.
    • She writes about her early life and asks him about his. She also explains that he should address his letters to Mandy in order to ensure that they reach her.
    • After addressing the letter to the royal family in Ayortha hoping that it'll reach Char there, Ella sends it, and settles in to suffer through whatever grief her new family will cause her.
  • Chapter 23

    • Ella's father prepares to leave, too. He's going off to try to make his money back, but he also can't stand his new wife. Even though he loves her. Yeah, it's weird.
    • Sir Peter might be a jerk, but at least he's honest about some things. There's none of that in Mum Olga or her offspring.
    • Surprisingly, Ella wishes her dad would return. While he's away, Mum Olga moves her stuff to the servant's wing where Ella will freeze during the winter.
    • Worse, Hattie reveals Ella's spell, so that now Mum Olga and Olive can give her direct orders.
    • Mum Olga tells one of the servants to train Ella; it looks like the abusive laundress will get her until Mandy speaks up.
    • Mandy subtly threatens to stop cooking for the household and make sure no other good cook works for them if Ella's hurt. Mandy also says she'll work Ella to the bone, which Mum Olga approves of.
    • Now that Ella is working for Mandy, Olive comes and bugs her in the kitchen. She orders Ella to make her a cake, and then says "Talk to me." Ella tells story after story, and still Olive won't let up.
    • Next, Olive commands Ella to give her money. Mandy tries to talk her out of the command, but Olive whines about how her mother and sister have more money than she does.
    • Ella has to obey, so she hands over the few coins she does have, and feels even more trapped as a result.
    • There's to be a dinner party that night, and Mum Olga orders Ella to scrub the floor on hands and knees using lye, which burns her skin. Luckily Mandy has remedies to fix her up.
    • When dinner's about to go out, Ella gets revenge by sprinkling passiflora in Mum Olga's dish with the help of a gleefully complicit maid, Nancy.
    • Don't worry, it's not poison: it just makes Mum Olga fall asleep before her company is gone.
    • Ella should have put some in Hattie's dish, too. She calls Ella in to tend the fire just so that everyone can see how dirty she is.
    • Even though he's never been much help before, Sir Peter seems like Ella's only hope. So, she writes him a letter.
  • Chapter 24

    • Ella begs her father to come back, explaining how awful her stepmother and sisters are.
    • Meanwhile, she tries to avoid her new family. Luckily, they don't seem too fond of her either, especially as she gets dirtier and dirtier.
    • The best hiding place is the library. You know, since no one goes there.
    • Ella spends a lot of time thinking about Char, wanting to bounce ideas off him and make jokes to him.
    • Char writes back to Ella before her father does, and they keep up a regular correspondence. (To explain all these letters, Mandy pretends she has an admirer. Mum Olga and Hattie think this is hilarious.)
    • Char writes a lot about the Ayorthaian court: how formal everyone is there, how quiet and thoughtful the people are, and how many imaginary conversations he holds in his head with Ella. He winds down his letter saying he misses being surprised by her, and since he can't anticipate her response, she ought to write back quickly.
    • She responds to Char's letter with a bunch of small talk, and then describes a ball she attended recently (and by "attended" she means cleaned up after).
    • Char writes back that Ayorthaians have "sings" instead of balls, where large groups of people gather to sing all night. He ends his letter by asking whether she's still too young to marry.
    • Whoa!
    • Actually, he repeats this question in every letter, and Ella answers each time with something silly or funny.
    • Ella begins to fall in love with Char, but doesn't want to admit it. What if he was joking all along? What if it ruins their friendship?
    • Char's letters also have stuff about his own life, like his problem with holding grudges.
    • By now, Char's been gone for six months. After a long day of scrubbing and cooking, Ella finally gets hold of his next letter.
    • Surprise!
    • He's totally in love with Ella, and totally confused about her feelings for him. Obviously she likes him or she wouldn't waste paper on him, but does she like-like him?
  • Chapter 25

    • Mind = blown. Ella realizes that she could marry him, escape her awful family, be of a high enough station that no one would give her orders, and basically everything would be awesome.
    • BUT. And it's a big but. Her obedience spell could be big trouble for Char.
    • Like, she could be forced to betray state secrets or even to assassinate Char. It's not as though she could keep the spell a secret for very long in court, which is full of spies and prying eyes.
    • If Char knew about the curse, he could keep her safe…how? By locking her away from human influence forever?
    • Or he could renounce the throne so his younger sister Cecilia would rule, but enemies could still use Ella to get to her.
    • Basically, there's no way for her to be in Char's life and keep him safe. Maybe if she ever gets rid of the curse, but not until then.
    • She ruins a bunch of paper by crying on it, but finally composes a letter that she thinks will get the point across.
    • She writes as though from Hattie's perspective (making sure to misspell a few things), informing Char that Ella has eloped with a rich man. She'd never taken Char's letters seriously and had read them aloud for everyone's amusement. 
    • Ella encloses a short letter from herself to Char, which Hattie had supposedly found and included. Ella tells Char not to look for her and makes sure to write it in her characteristically witty style so he'll know it's authentic.
    • She has Mandy mail the letters but doesn't tell her what's up. When Mandy returns from the post, she finds Ella sobbing.
    • She tells Mandy what she's done, and Mandy mournfully agrees that it's the right thing.
    • But then Mandy decides that it's just about time to even the score with Lucinda. So, Ella hides behind a curtain, and Mandy summons Lucinda.
    • Now, Mandy tells a little like: she's got a bet with another fairy, see, and she needs Lucinda to tell the truth: is she too afraid to try out (1) being a squirrel and (2) being obedient for six months?
    • Lucinda rises to the bait and transforms herself into a squirrel. Mandy has a good laugh.
    • Is this going to prompt Lucinda to remove the curse? At least, Mandy says, maybe Lucinda will stop doing harmful magic.
    • Come on, isn't there some kind of fairy council that can take Lucinda's power away?
    • Anyway, here comes a letter from Ella's dad. He can't come home, because he's too busy trying to find her a rich husband. Awesome.
    • Also awesome: Ella gets to see, thanks to the fairy book, that Char is burning all their letters. She also sees his journal entry calling her a deceitful, dishonest minx.
    • Ella survives the next six months by writing letters to Char about her life but never mailing them.
    • Lucinda is due to arrive back in her own form soon, so Ella hopes she'll be able (and willing) to remove the curse.
    • Hattie gossips to Ella about Prince Charmont's return in a month, and how his parents will be holding three masked balls in his honor—and so he can choose a bride.
    • Finally, Mandy summons Lucinda. She shows up bawling. Her time as a squirrel for three months and as an obedient child for three months had been horrendous.
    • Mandy interrogates Lucinda about her experiences, and asks whether she would consider taking her "blessings" back now that she knows firsthand how terrible they are. Ella steps out from behind the curtain (despite having promised not to) and says yeah, Lucinda should take back the spells.
  • Chapter 26

    • Lucinda is surprised to see Ella. Ella is surprised to see Lucinda—because she looks really different from the last time, all old and wrinkled.
    • Then Lucinda says that Ella looks familiar, and wonders whether she's one of her former victims.
    • Ella fills Lucinda in on how the obedience spell has royally messed up her life, and Lucinda is really sad for her.
    • But not sad enough to remove the spell. See, she's given up big magic, although she'd be glad to help Ella with small magic.
    • Great, fine time to give up big magic, right?
    • Major bummer. Someone like Char—sensitive, clever, well-mannered, considerate, passionate, charming, as kind as he's handsome, and heir to a throne—will find someone else to marry. Sigh. If Ella ever sees him again, it'll be from a distance and he won't recognize her in her rags.
    • She spends the next two weeks furious because she can't be with Char or go to the ball.
    • Light bulb moment! She can go to the ball, since it's a masked ball. She just won't unmask.
    • Mandy doesn't approve but helps her anyway. Ella packs up her gowns and daydreams about Char.
    • She also checks her fairy book for stuff about Char, but instead it shows her Areida's journal entry.
      (Gee, it's a good thing all these people keep journals.)
    • So, it turns out that Char had stayed at her family's place in Ayortha, and Areida had asked him whether he knew Ella and whether she was safe. Cue long, awkward silence. Char asked how well she'd known Ella, and Areida's answers about Ella's personality didn't fit with Char's most recent experience with her. More awkward silence ensued.
    • Time for the first ball. Ella spends the entire day helping Hattie get ready: lacing her corset, fetching her pearls, styling her wig.
    • Mandy helps Ella get ready, soaking away a year's worth of dirt and grime. Bet that felt good!
    • Ella wears a pretty green gown, even though she doesn't have any jewelry to wear with it. She also puts on the glass slippers, figuring they'll be hidden under her gown.
    • And just like that, it starts raining. How's she going to get to the ball now?
    • Ella summons Lucinda and asks for help. Lucinda conjures up a necklace and a tiara, and then declares that she'll make a coach for Ella. Mandy grumbles that this is big magic, but Lucinda reassures her that she'll shape everything out of existing things and not thin air.
    • The carriage is made from a giant's pumpkin (since it's already huge) and the horses and footmen from mice and lizards.
    • Hm, this is starting to sound familiar.
    • Again, Mandy complains that anything could happen to Ella, so Lucinda agrees to make it safer by putting a time limit on the spell:
    • Ella has to be back by midnight. At that time, everything will return to its original form and the jewelry will vanish.
    • Speaking of vanishing, there goes Lucinda. But Mandy makes Ella wait till she fetches an old umbrella. You know, just in case.
  • Chapter 27

    • The castle is huge and super impressive. Ella hasn't been there since she was an infant, so she's blown away.
    • A squire points out the line to meet the prince and asks her to dance. She accepts, but watches Char while she dances. At one point, a blond girl makes him laugh. Hm, do we detect a hint of jealousy?
    • From her vantage point, she can also tell that Hattie is ready to move in on Char once he gets through the line of introductions.
    • There goes her resolve not to make contact. Ella gets in the introduction line and presents herself to the prince as Lela.
    • The meet-and-greet isn't going too well, until Ella starts speaking Ayorthaian. So, now they have something to talk about, and Hattie is mad that someone else is commandeering his attention.
    • They dance together. At one point he looks like he's on the verge of recognizing her and asks whether she likes to slide down stair rails. She lies and says that she's afraid of heights.
    • Finally, Char remembers that he should be talking to his other guests. He says he'll look for her later.
    • Ella hops in her coach and goes home.
    • The next day, Hattie recounts how often the prince had danced with her and how enamored he was of her. Yeah, right.
    • Ella resolves to keep her distance the next evening. It's not raining but Lucinda gives her a coach anyway, along with a tiara and pendant of pink roses that match her silvery blue gown.
    • When she arrives, she sees Char dancing with the blond chick. However, he looks at Ella over the girl's shoulder and mouths, "Wait for me." Which she does.
    • He dances with Ella, and asks her if she'll attend the following night: his father has asked him to sing an Ayorthaian song. He sings a snippet in her ear, and it's about remembering someone. Hmm…
    • Ella excuses herself because it's almost midnight. Before she leaves, he tells her to call him Char and holds her hand briefly. Swoon.
  • Chapter 28

    • Ella looks for a clue to Char's thoughts in her fairy book when she gets home, but nada. The next morning, though, it shows Char's journal entry from the second night of the ball.
    • Ahem. In Char's words: Hattie pretty much accosted him after Ella's departure saying that she was just looking out for him because "Lela" might be disfigured or old or a criminal. Therefore, Char should order her to unmask herself. Char also mused about who Lela might be and what her reasons for remaining masked are. He's happy to have found a friend where he expected none.
    • There's also a note from Olive to Hattie, reminding her to pay up since Olive had danced with the prince twice while Hattie was eating (again, the grammar and spelling are atrocious).
    • Since Ella plans to stay late at the final night of the ball in case that's when Char is singing, she makes a garland of daisies so the fairy gifts don't disappear at midnight.
    • Mandy has something better, though: a tiara of woven silver leaves and a silver necklace with a lapis pendant.
    • Char is waiting when her carriage pulls up. He notices that it's an unusual color (you know, pumpkin), and she says that it's normal her homeland.
    • Char asks if he can visit her there, and she says totally. Well, if he's going to meet her family, she might as well meet his, and he drags her over to meet his parents.
    • King Jerrold and Queen Daria seem friendly enough. The queen implies that "Lela" reminds her of another playful person at court (Ella's mom) and says that her son has chosen well. So embarrassing, mom.
    • As Char and Ella leave, Ella overhears the queen saying that she doesn't remember orange carriages in Bast. Oops.
    • When Char leaves Ella to visit with other guests, Hattie swoops in and grills "Lela" about her background.
    • Hattie says she's secretly engaged to the prince (!) so in his best interests, she has to see what "Lela's" face looks like. Luckily Hattie asks instead of commands, so Ella's able to refuse.
    • Char comes back just in time and tells Ella to dance with him. They dance for a while, and then head outside. Ella is super bummed, because she thinks this is the last time she's going to see Char.
    • They go back inside to dance. Char confesses that he's resolved to never marry, and he apologizes for misleading "Lela."
    • Ella laughs it off and says she's just there for stories. Char says that friendship can be forever, and he's on the verge of asking "Lela" something when Hattie yanks off Ella's mask.
  • Chapter 29

    • Well, knock them over with a feather, because it's Ella!
    • She dashes out of the ball only to find that her carriage has turned back to a pumpkin. So she has to run home, and she loses one of the glass slippers along the way.
    • She bursts in on Mandy, spills the whole story, and Mandy tells her to pack a bag: they can leave and make a living as cooks.
    • Just then, they hear voices: the prince has arrived with his men, and is demanding to see everyone in the house.
    • Ella throws back on her tattered old gown, and tries to hide behind the tallest servant. Char recognizes her, but Hattie says it's just "Cinders," their scullery maid.
    • Char produces a glass slipper, saying it'll fit Ella's feet alone. Not so fast, says Hattie. It's her slipper.
    • Olive snickers about this, since Hattie's feet are way too big, but Hattie tries it on anyway. Or tries to. Olive also tries, but her feet are too big as well.
    • Char kneels to put the slipper on Ella's foot and tells her that she doesn't have to be Ella if she doesn't want to. Ella begins to cry, and
    • Char realizes that the letter was a trick.
    • He orders (without realizing it's an order) Ella to tell him whether she loves him. She says that she does. So next he says, "Then marry me!" Well, it's a direct order, so there's only one thing she can say: "Yes."
    • Hattie knows this game and immediately orders Ella not to marry him. Okay, says Ella; no marriage.
    • Not so fast. Mum Olga thinks it would be great to be related to the prince, so she urges Ella to marry Char. (Char urges her, too.)
    • Well, this is tough. She loves Char and wants to marry him, but she could also destroy him.
    • Flashback to all the times her obedience backfired: Lucinda's spell, Mandy's birthday cake, the ogres who wanted to eat her, her stepfamily abusing her, and so on.
    • She bites down on her tongue and refuses to say yes. When her mouth involuntarily opens, she clamps a hand over it.
    • Girl is having a full-on meltdown here. She loves Char and wants to say yes, but she knows she can't. This goes on for a while. She's rocking and crying and freaking out, and the finally she realizes something: she has to save Char.
    • Somehow, that recognition gives her what she needs to cry out that no, she won't marry him, and no one can force her to.
    • Olive and Hattie each try giving Ella commands, and she doesn't listen to them. Instead, she explains to Char that he wouldn't be safe if she were his wife.
    • And then she realizes that she's acting against her mother's command not to tell anyone about the spell.
      Whoa!
    • She hugs Char, and Mandy tells her that she broke the spell: she rescued herself when she rescued the prince.
    • Evidently, loving Char (and the kingdom) was enough to let her break the spell, but suffering under her stepfamily wasn't quite bad enough.
    • She then curtsies to Char, saying that a few moments ago, she was still too young to marry. Now she's his.
    • Hm, sounds like there's some kind of theme here about learning to make your own decisions.
    • They kiss.
  • Epilogue

    • A month later, Ella and Char are married. Her stepfamily's not invited, and her father doesn't get the invitation in time because he's traveling. But Areida's there, and she and Ella are still BFFs.
    • There are also a bunch of magical creatures: the gnomes, Slannen the elf trader, Uaaxee the giant, and Apple the centaur.
    • Lucinda shows up with a gift, despite basically everyone telling her that, no, she really shouldn't have. However, it turns out to be harmless and even useful (we hope): a fairy box that will shrink or grow to accommodate whatever's put in it.
    • Fast forward to the future. Hattie never marries, but Olive marries a widower who will talk to her when she wants and give her cake and money. Sounds pretty good to us.
    • Ella's father becomes rich again, though Char keeps an eye on him to make sure he's trading honestly.
    • Mandy lives with them as cook and godmother of their children. She occasionally performs small magic to help out around the castle. Useful!
    • Ella refuses to become a princess, but instead takes the titles of Court Linguist and Cook's Helper. (Okay, admirable, but is that even possible? Do you not automatically become a princess if you marry a prince?)
    • She travels with Char, picking up local languages along the way, and the fairy book keeps them posted on how their kids are doing at home.
    • Oh yeah, and Ella now loves making decisions. Sometimes she even changes her mind several times. Luckily, Char thinks this is pretty funny.
    • They live—wait for it—happily ever after.