“Look, Poppy It’s Bella of the Cinders. She certainly doesn’t look like ‘The Beauty’ now, does she? Not with that rat’s nest of hair or those filthy chicken arms. Maybe we should start calling her ‘Cinderbella.'” Nettle started laughing as if she had said the cleverest thing in the world, and I heard Poppy weakly join in. I didn’t look at them; I just continued cleaning the ashes and soot, aware that it was on my face and hands and clothes, aware that the picture I made was a far cry from the beauty my father had always praised. Why should I have cared whether or not my hands were soiled with soot? What need did I have for beauty anymore? * * * * Elle’s life is turned upside down when tragedy strikes. Her stepmother and stepsisters treat her as Cinderbella, forcing her to do manual labor to the point of exhaustion. It would be easy enough to accept Thorny’s overtures, yet the inequality that exists between them seems an unsurpassable gulf. But when Thorny suggests they go to the nearby kingdom of Airland in quest of a mythical sword whose bearer will be made queen, Elle sees her opportunity to start a new life, freed from the oppression of her stepmother. The thought that she might have to face such challenges as hungry dwarves, land pirates, and angry chimeras never crosses her mind.