No simpering princesses here. Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley was a refreshing twist on the traditional Cinderella fairy tale and the zombie craze set in the time of Downton Abbey.
Ella is the long suffering savior of her small town once those that have died start rising from the dead. She takes her role in stride and doesn’t expect anything more than what she has been given. I admired her attitude and ability to take on this dark role. I certainly don’t know if I would have been quite so willing to take on what she did.
“The theological argument still rages. Is it murder, or not? … Only one thing was clear—I had sullied my soul. In the minds of my neighbours, I had already committed one heinous crime, why should anyone else risk eternal damnation? They believe it to be far better that I hang once for a hundred murders, than a hundred people hang for one.”
The Duke is no slouch either. Rather than being a two-dimensional dude just looking to get married, Exley fleshed out Seth and gave him his own demons to wrestle with. Not only did he have to take over the family estate after the death of his father, he’s expected to marry a highborn bachelorette and he’s still reeling from having served in WWI. Like Ella, his struggle to balance the simpering dull ladies being thrown at him and the threats to their town seem real.
The romance that blossoms between Seth and Ella is borne from shared goals and a genuine appreciation for each other. It was a slow discovery. It was refreshing that it wasn’t necessarily a love-at-first-sight, head-over-heels kind of love.
Ella, the Slayer definitely gets my seal of approval for its fresh take a well-known fairy tale and the well-worn zombie trope. The characters, both primary and secondary, were well-developed. Their motivations were clear and helped move the story forward at a good clip. Fans of fairy tales, true love and zombies (without a lot of gore) will enjoy this tromp through the English countryside.
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book review ella aw exley