During times of sorrow, I find solace in the written word, escaping into novels whose authors create characters and settings as vital and vibrant as the real world, yet with a dash of the unexpected, a sense of lyricism or a character so believable I wouldn’t be surprised if she walked through my front door.
This fall in particular has been a time for comfort literature, seeking wisdom from favorite authors like Rosamunde Pilcher and her gorgeous prose, as well as debut authors like Emily Deibel and her imaginative world of Cinderland.
In Cecilly in Cinderland, Emily retells the classic story of Cinderella, but with her own creative and original spin. The reader journeys from a city of towers and turrets to the magical world of Cinderland, inspired by Yellowstone National Park, deep within the earth. Here, the protagonists find all their wishes come true; but, as the cover implies, wishes won’t protect them in Cinderland. (Read a full plot description and excerpt here.)
As soon as I encountered Cecilly, the main character, I could see and hear her, as if she were a lifelong friend inviting me on an adventurous excursion, and that ability is one of Emily’s strengths. She offers the reader a few details—a bit of dialogue, a gesture, or even simply a collection of buttons—and weaves them into three-dimensional characters.
The same can be said for both worlds she creates, from the everyday to the fantastical land of the Cinders. I immediately saw the towers and turrets of Cecilly and her sisters’ dress shop, as well as the wall that separated their district from the rest of Havenshire. When she and her sisters descend to Cinderland, the creatures and landscape are described with equal precision, coming alive as Cecilly converses with a ghost or flies on a pygmy dragon.
And in each location geysers feature prominently, lifeless in Havenshire, bubbly and colorful in Cinderland. The mystery of the geysers connects both worlds, and before Cecilly can resume her life in Havenshire, she must make a sacrifice to the geysers, which Emily reveals in a clever and surprising climax.
But like Cecilly and her sisters, I eventually finished the adventure and had to return to reality. I closed the book with sadness, yet I realized I was able to step back into my life with more ease, a bit of Cecilly’s courage rubbing off on me, making me grateful for Emily’s imagination and an escape to Cinderland.