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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations


****The Fairy Godmother

by Mercedes Lackey

Reviewed June 23, 2004.
Luna Books, New York, 2004.  417 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (MCN F LAC).

I’ve always loved fairy tale variants.  It was fun to find one in a fantasy written for adults.

Elena is oppressed by her stepmother and stepsisters.  They’re in the process of moving away to flee their creditors, taking everything valuable with them that they possibly can, leaving Elena only the house, and nothing much else.

Of course, I expected this to be a Cinderella variant.  The townspeople even call Elena “Ella Cinders.”  However, Elena’s twenty-one and not getting her happy-ever-after.  She can’t marry the prince.  He’s charming enough, but he’s only eleven years old.

When Elena tries to hire herself out at the Mop Fair, she’s taken up by Madame Bella, who explains that she’s the Fairy Godmother for the kingdom.  Madame Bella is looking for an apprentice.  Elena will do nicely, since there’s all kinds of magic focused around her, as the Tradition is trying to give her a happy-ever-after, but circumstances have thwarted it.

The work of a fairy godmother is delightfully entertaining.  They have to work with the magic of the Tradition and try to turn it to good ends.  For example, it takes all their ingenuity to divert a curse at a Christening, and to keep a pregnant woman’s baby from becoming the next Ladderlocks.  Then there’s the problem of Questing Princes.  When the second prince treats Elena rudely, in her disguise as an old woman, she responds by turning him into a donkey.  It doesn’t seem right to leave him to die in the woods, so she takes him home, but that has its own repercussions.

This story was great fun to read.  It is a story for adults, not teens, and has some sexy spots, giving more details than I was interested in knowing.  However, the adult perspective of how this magic would actually work out in living life added something new to the fairy tale variant idea I’ve always liked.  It pulled in all kinds of fairy tale themes in the story of a spunky heroine who forges an even better ending than Tradition would have given her. 

Reviews of other books by Mercedes Lackey:
One Good Knight
The Snow Queen
Sleeping Beauty
Beauty and the Werewolf
Take a Thief
The Dragon Quintet

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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