Ella the Slayer isn’t your everyday fairytale adaptation of the Cinderella fantasy. Eleanor Cowie’s father is a knight and her deceased mother, who died when Ella turned ten, was a humble maid. Prior to fighting in the Great War (WWI), Eleanor’s father, Sir Jeffrey, married Elizabeth, the mother of two daughters, Louise and Charlotte. When Sir Jeffrey returned from the war he was a broken man so psychologically damaged that he required help to perform the most basic bodily functions.
With her husband’s influence waning, Elizabeth turned Ella into a house servant forced to clean their home, wash the clothes, and fetch hot water for baths. Sounds like a typical Cinderella job description, doesn’t it?
However, this Cinderella tale takes place in England circa 1919 with the population reeling from the flue pandemic of 1918, which took millions of lives within a few short weeks. What history didn’t record, and Ella described in her first person account, was the fact that after the dead were buried, they returned as “vermin”. (That’s the designation Ella gave these zombie creatures overrunning the countryside.) To protect herself and her community from further infection, Ella picked up her katana, a Japanese sword, she was taught to wield since childhood. Now 17, Ella lops off vermin heads in order to stop this undead infestation.
A.W. Exley created a surprisingly independent Cinderella who manages juggling her difficult home life, responding to calls of vermin attacks, and meeting Seth deMage, the new Duke of Leithfied, who step-mother Elizabeth plans to marry off to her eldest daughter, Louise. However, the Duke has other ideas after meeting Ella.
Exley’s novel, Ella the Slayer, will keep YA readers at the edge of their seats as the plot takes surprising twists and turns that will leave readers breathless. The characters are realistic and fully developed in a marvelously described setting. The only fault Pop could find with this thriller was that it ended. To his joy, there is a sequel, Alice the Player. Enjoy.
Anita Exley has always enjoyed the reading and writing process. In high school she found refuge in the school library making friends with thousands of fictional characters. In college she studied accounting, but preferred spending her free time learning hieroglyphics. Today Exley writes fantasy historical novels with heart from her home in New Zealand. You can visit her on her website at http://awexley.com.