Heyy y’all, today I’m reviewing A Dream Not Imagined which I’ve wanted to read for so long now, mainly because I don’t think I’ve ever read a Cinderella retelling, or any fairytale retelling for that matter. I wanted so badly to check one out because I love fairytales (blame Disney) sooooo here I am, reviewing, as far as I’m aware, my first ever fairytale retelling. Cue flailing, excited screaming of Disney songs and maybe a few flying glass slippers here and there…
Ellie Abbington has always wanted more than her dull life as a maid for her upper class family, has always longed to escape and live happily ever after, far from her stepmother and stepsisters. And it looks like her dream might come true, very soon… When a handsome prince arrives in town, Ellie seizes her chance to meet him with hopes that he might, just might, be her escape. But it just so happens that her stepsisters are after the very same prince and a ball is being thrown so that the prince can select a wife. How can Ellie compete with her wealthy sisters? However, when Ellie is permitted by her stepmother to attend the ball, all hopes of a happily ever after are crushed by the prince himself, a man who is not all Ellie thought he would be. Who is there left to trust now that her dreams have been ruined? Distraught at the turnout of the ball, Ellie is confronted by an elderly maid who encourages her to turn to God instead. Following the wise maid’s advice, Ellie puts her trust in God, and her life begins to change…
So, I didn’t hugely like this book. I liked how, by the end, Ellie realised that having a rich husband isn’t the most important thing in the world, so I guess there’s a good message behind it all, but I didn’t really like the actual plot or the characters.
In regards to the storyline, it was original with the horrible Prince Charming and the charming peasant boy; buuut still predictable. I felt like the whole ‘duchess’ concept was just included to emphasise how awful the prince really was, but otherwise was pretty unnecessary.
Ellie’s backstory wasn’t wholly believable either. Um, who abducts an innocent child just because their father rejected you, even though what you had was only a fling?? I honestly think Lady Abbington (Ellie’s stepmother) is insane. And Lord Abbington, wasn’t much better. I thought this was going to be a pretty lighthearted, squishy lil romance, with a twist on the original tale, but the writer literally says that Lord Abbington abused Ellie. The worst part is that it was only subtly slipped in once, and then there was nothing else said on the matter. He could be sent to prison for assault, but Ellie didn’t seem phased by it at all throughout the story. I just think that, if you’re not going to put some emotion and maybe a bit of detail on how it really impacted Ellie, then there’s no point just adding the fact that she was abused as a side note.
Ellie instinctively jumped back and grabbed for a weapon, remembering Thomas Abbington’s tendency for physical violence toward her.
That’s literally all it said. No elaboration whatsoever.
And the Duke? He was just annoying and pushy and, in my opinion, wasn’t much of an improvement from the Abbingtons.
Also the Prince was THE WORST but he obviously has to be that way for the sake of the story. I liked how him being horrible was proof to Ellie that some dreams, like marrying rich princes, really aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The Prince wasn’t the classic gentleman and, although I didn’t like him at all, I liked the twist on his character. Buuuut then that handed the charming role over to Rowen, the peasant boy. I know he was sweet, but he seemed almost unrealistically kind to Ellie that he did slightly annoy me, which sounds a bit pathetic, I know. Although I can’t really complain because he was probably the only good character. What I did want was a little more backstory on him. I know the book is a novella, but Rowen was a pretty underdeveloped character and just seemed to me the sweet lil guy to fill in the gap for the classic ‘happily ever after’. Also, rushing into things much at the end?? But, again, it’s a novella, I GET IT PEEPS.
What about Ellie herself, you ask? Well, I know she’s a maid and is allowed crazy, ambitious dreams, but there are better dreams than just marrying a wealthy, handsome prince. Although I liked how her dreams changed, she still seemed slightly simple minded and dull throughout. I definitely wanted more on the stepsisters though. And, um, where did the other maids go?? It’s a novella, I KNOW, but I wish the writer had focused more on developing the secondary characters instead of the whole ‘duchess’ backstory.
Overall, it was a lil dull in places, with a pretty cheesy romance that was slightly predictable BUT I didn’t completely hate the book!! It did have an enjoyable writing style – meaning that I’d definitely read another one of the author’s books – it was just this particular story that I didn’t like very much. It has, however, prompted me to find more retellings so YAY.
Which retelling should I read next? Have you read A Dream Not Imagined? If you haven’t, then do immediately right now straight away and tell me whether you like it or not! Spill all the thoughts.
Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣ (5/10)