This is a dark fairy tale. A twisted tale, if you will. A Grimm tale that takes the happily ever after and crushes it with power and bloodlust and magic.
But honestly, it's not that great of a story because of it's length and therefore it's character development. It's barely okay as a short story, but that's only because the reader already knows the premise of the entire plot and is reading the tale more for the difference and the ending and the darkness rather than the story alone.
You see, Ward is cheating a bit because she doesn't actually give her characters personality. I don't feel like I know these people, even though there are really only three characters in the whole story. Their actions are unbelievable, unknown.
I don't understand why Ella would hold that anger from two years old all the way up until she was grown up. There isn't enough detail, not enough thought behind the actions.
Same with the witch. She has not become real on paper with the scant amount of detail there.
The love is unbelievable. As if the two could really fall in love from one day each year. Or rather, it could have been possible, but the story hardly makes it seem possible.
The only redeeming factor of this short story is the ending - because that's what we're reading it for anyway. We already know the story of Cinderella. We are just reading it for the dark, dark ending.
H.M. Ward hardly does justice to re-imagining the story of Cinderella except for the ending.
But that last line was beautiful.
Two stars because it was only okay. Not great, but redeemed and given an extra star because of the ending.
If you get your hands on it, you might as well read it because it's so short. But I wouldn't really go out and recommend it to anyone. I've read better non-published dark fairy tales than this one, to be honest.