Charming Note #4: Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carson Levine

New to the blog? Don’t know what this “Charming Note” thing is? Click here for my introduction to the project.

*deep breath* This is an intimidating one. What do you even say in a letter to a legend of YA fantasy? “Hi, I love your books” seems horribly inadequate. I mean, what girl hasn’t read and loved Ella Enchanted?

Let’s start there, with Ella. My paperback copy has been read and lent so many times that I’ve had to put the hardcover version on my Christmas list! If you want a book with a perfect ending, this is it. It is tense, powerful, and deliciously satisfying. I usually get annoyed by characters who try to play the martyr to “protect” their love, but the stakes are so high in Ella that I could stand 100% beside her decisions in the last scene. For the record, Char is on my short list of favorite fictional men (He even lands above Gilbert Blythe!).

Ah, and you know how I complained a few posts back about nobody publishing books for teens who want to take their writing seriously? Well, Gail Carson Levine proved me wrong! A few years ago,  her book Writing Magic came out and it’s specifically targeted at middle schoolers wanting to hone their craft. Fun fact: According to her website, this is the only book of hers that’s been banned–because she advises that writers make their characters suffer! Just another reason to love G.C.L 🙂

Her other books (the ones I’ve read at least):

1. The Two Princesses of Bamarre: Possibly the first bittersweet book I ever read. I had to read it twice to fully reconcile myself to the ending because it was so unexpected.

2. The Princess Tales series: Is it any wonder I’ll be starting up my own fairy tale rewrite magazine when I was raised on these books? Lighthearted short stories packaged in beautiful hardback covers that only add to the pleasure of reading them.

3. Fairest: Sort of a companion to Ella Enchanted (set in a neighboring world). A Snow White retelling.

It has this fantastic line in it that the prince tells Aza. She’s not considered to be very pretty by most people, but he tells her something along these lines: “Some girls are beautiful like trees or rivers, but you’re beautiful like a mountain. You’re magnificent.” Gah, I wish my book wasn’t in storage because I’m sure the exact wording is much better than that.

4. Ever: I was very excited to see GCL branching out into Greek mythology, and especially the Psyche and Cupid story because it’s probably my favorite myth. However, this book didn’t grab me like I’d hoped, but perhaps it was because I’d set my expectations so incredibly high.

5. Tale of Two Castles: My mom’s read it and said it was good, but alas, it’s still on my to-be-read pile. I’m very excited about it, though! It’s a loose Puss ‘N Boots retelling, which is pretty cool.

Alright, that’s all for now! My next charming note will go to Sigmund Brouwer, a Christian fantasy/sci-fi author. This is my effort not to exclusively write to female YA fantasy writers.


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