Book Review: Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan

9305414Title: Cinderella: Ninja Warrior
Author: Maureen McGowan
Genre: Adventure, Retold Fairytale, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication Date: April 1st 2011
Buy The Novel: Book Depository
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by Baker & Taylor Publishing Group through Netgalley.

In this fast-paced story full of adventure and romance, Cinderella is more than just a servant girl waiting for her prince–she’s a tough, fearless girl who is capable of taking charge of a dangerous situation. Seeking to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother, Cinderella perfects her ninja skills and magic talents in secret, waiting for the day when she can break free and live happily ever after. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Cinderella and decide where she goes next–but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you’ve ever read!

Prior to reading Cinderella: Ninja Warrior, I already read and reviewed the companion novel, Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer. It’s hard to say which one of these novels I liked most. I enjoyed the part of the vampires trying to take over the kingdom in Sleeping Beauty, whereas I thought Cinderella was slightly better written and the plot less predictable. I also preferred Cinderella’s love interest, Ty. On the other hand, Sleeping Beauty focused on a love triangle, which is by its very nature more interesting. It’s a tough choice to make, especially with my undying love for vampires and the likes, but I have to decide that in the end, I enjoyed Cinderella more.

The story starts like the classic fairytale, with a young but fair maiden called Cinderella, who is forced to work 24/7 by her wicked stepmother. The latter also has a keen preference for black magic, and is even more evil in this novel than I remember her to be in the original fairytale. Cinderella also has two stepsisters, Gwendolyne and Agatha. Whereas Agatha is more of a follower, and often shows acts of kindness towards her servant sister, Gwendolyne is the spitting image of her wicked mother. Cinderella only has one true friend, in the form of her loyal and kind cat, Max. Forced to stay inside of the house by day, and expected to garden at night, the young girl is a lonely prisoner in her own home.

When a messenger called Ty appears one day with a letter to invite Cinderella and her sisters to the ball of the Prince, in which His Majesty will choose a suitable wife to marry, he immediately catches the young girl off-guard and befriends her. Cinderella, glad to finally have a friend who isn’t a four-legged animal, is glad with the attention Ty gives her, and actually develops a crush on him. Expressing her disinterest in the Prince of the Kingdom, and saying she would much rather dance with Ty at the ball, the young boy starts to like this strange servant girl as well.

I loved the wicked stepmother. Really, I did. Don’t blame me, alright, but she’s just so extremely hilarious, and I could practically imagine her stalking around the mansion, yelling things like ‘Bibadibabediboo’ at stuff. Yes, I know that line originally belonged to the Fairy Godmother, but whatever. I also really liked the character of Cinderella. Just like in the original fairytale, she doesn’t back down from a challenge and doesn’t suffer in self-pity simply because her life is a living hell. Instead, she finds courage in her own heart, determination in her ninja warrior training and happiness in her magical abilities, which she inherited from her mother, who was known to be a great and powerful magician before she died. Cinderella has all the qualities that make a person interesting: although strong-minded, intelligent and brave, she also doubts herself a lot of times, and she thinks a lot about her deceased parents, daydreaming about how life would have been if they were still alive. But she’s also capable of putting those thoughts aside, of getting past the way her stepmother is treating her, and finding happiness in the smallest of things. That turns her into a very likable, good-natured and charming protagonist who won my heart from the very start.

Although I was a bit confused at first concerning the whole ‘ninja warrior training program’, I loved the magical elements that were mentioned in the novel, from the protective spells the wicked stepmother had cast on the mansion to keep Cinderella locked up, to the difference between magic with a wand and magic with the power of one’s mind, to the power of love. I thought these elements were original, refreshing and made the story a lot more interesting. I also liked how there was not only a ball, but there were also a beauty pageant and a magical tournament.

I probably should have mentioned earlier that this a choose-your-own-adventure novel. The ending stays the same no matter what you choose, but the middle part of the story evolves a little differently. For instance, in one option Cinderella enters the competition for magicians using wands, and loses, although the Royal Magician does congratulate her on her performance. In the other option however, Cinderella trusts her own abilities and the strength of her own heart, and enters the tournament for magicians using only the power of their minds. In that scenario, she actually performs a lot better than in the previous one. After reading the book for the first time, I went back to read the alternative scenarios, and realised that I liked all of them equally as much. I used to love those choose-your-own-destiny novels back in the day (guess they were popular at the beginning of the 1990s or something) because it left me more choices as a reader, and made me feel like I actually played a part in the way the story unfolds. On the downside, what I most preferred with those novels of old, was that the ending was different when you choose other options, which it wasn’t in this novel. Oh well.

I really enjoyed reading Cinderella: Ninja Warrior, but there were some things in the novel that were a bit too obvious for my liking. The prime example of this, was Ty. I knew from the moment he opened that door and stepped in, that Ty was….*SPOILER ALERT* none other than prince Tiberius. Shocker! And I also knew that he would love Cinderella because she alone appreciated him for who he was, and not for his title, money or kingdom. I also knew right away that Cinderella would do well at the magical tournament, but that’s to be expected from any heroine, isn’t it?

The romance between Cinderella and Ty was sweet, unexpectidly realistic and heartwarming. I loved them both, and I loved them even more when they were together. For some strange reason, I also liked Agatha, although she hardly spoke up and merely followed in her sister’s and mother’s footsteps, but I thought she had some undeniable qualities as well. Atleast she wasn’t cruel or vicious.

In my opinion, the ending was a bit too long. As is to be expected, this story ends with an epic battle between Cinderella, Ty and her wicked stepmother. However, the fight lasts well over forty pages, is often interrupted only to restart again, and lasts too long for my preferences. It was the only time during this novel that I actually felt slightly bored, which is never a good sign. However, the rest of the novel was an extremely funny, enjoyable and entertaining read that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and brings a fabulous twist to a well-known fairytale.


  1. Fab review! I love fairytale retelling =)

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