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BELLA AT MIDNIGHT by Diane Stanley Kirkus Star

BELLA AT MIDNIGHT

By Diane Stanley

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-06-077573-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

Stanley sets her lovely fairytale in a place like England in a time possibly medieval. She takes her tropes and occasionally her language from Shakespeare and from folklore, most notably Cinderella and the Arthurian legends (with a touch of Jeanne d’Arc), but her story runs in a clear, sparkling new stream. Isabel—Bella—is left motherless at birth, and her coldhearted father, Edward of Burning Wood, casts her aside. A caring aunt sees that she is raised with the family of a blacksmith whose mother was also wet nurse to the young prince Julian. Edward calls Bella back when he remarries, but his new wife, herself once widowed under painful circumstances, has her own daughters to protect. The kingdom’s fragile peace is greatly threatened by treachery, and Bella, now 16, must find a way to keep Julian from being sacrificed and a terrible war from breaking out once again. Stanley deftly spins her various threads into a gossamer narrative that shimmers both brightly and darkly, made richer by Ibatoulline’s embellishments. Once begun, it will be hard to put down. (Fiction. 10-14)