Saturday, January 14, 2006

Review: The Fairy Godmother

This is the first Luna title & was originally published in 2004 written by well known & widely admired fantasy writer Mercedes Lackey. I'd never read Ms. Lackey's work previously, but I now find myself wanting to hunt down her backlist. Hmm..perhaps the Baen Free Library will have some of her work. I'll have to look later. *Added later- BFL does have some of Ms. Lackey's work! YAY!

This tale begins as the standard Cinderella. Ella Cinder's actual name is Elena Klovis. Instead of becoming the belle of the ball & marrying her prince, Elena's evil stepmom & stepsisters run off to 'foreign countries' in search of gullible rich men to fleece. Leaving poor Elena to face their debtors with nothing but a nearly empty house. Elena, broke & in rags, decides to become a household servant at the equivalent of a modern day job fair. Only, none of the locals wants to hire her for fear of what Madame Klovis might do when/if she returns.

At the very last moment, Fairy Godmother Bella swoops in & rescues Elena on her flying donkey cart. Elena is to be Bella's new apprentice Godmother. Eventually, Elena learns as much as Bella can teach her & Bella retires. During the course of routine Godmothering Elena takes Prince Alexander of Kohlstania into her household as a Failed Quester in need of serious reform. Time passes, as Alexander is more resistant to reform than anticipated.

Both Alexander & Elena's attraction grows steadily once he earns her respect. An unusual aspect I particularly enjoyed was that they experienced mutual interactive dreams, even when they slept in separate buildings & hadn't verbally expressed their interest in each other.

This novel works better as a fantasy than it does as a romance, which I half expected given Lackey's background. Alexander & Elena don't meet until two hundred pages into the story (out of four hundred seventy nine). Had this been a straight romance that could have been a deal breaker. However, the world Ms. Lackey builds is fully developed & well integrated into the plot and so I didn't quibble. Another issue is that more attention is paid to Alexander's reformation than to the growing attraction between them, but, again, this can be put down to Ms. Lackey's fantasy/sci fi background and to plot needs.

Ms. Lackey's research into world fairytales and mythology is obvious as you read TFG. Other than the Cinderella main plot, I counted no less than seven veiled references to other fairytales woven into the story. I'm sure I missed a few. I grew to like Elena & then Alexander as the story grew. Each overcomes a troubled background (Lackey makes an excellent case that growing up as a Royal isn't all it's cracked up to be) and they grow together. Ms. Lackey has a new fan & The Fairy Godmother is nestled among my keepers- as soon as daughter has finished it.


Anne E. said...

I read the book when it was first published and enjoyed it as well --I actually won an autographed copy in a contest! Don't know why I haven't read anything by Ms Lackey since then, however, as I think she is a very entertaining writer.

Review of "Lady Anne's Dangerous Man" is up on my blog now.

Nicole said...

I'd recommend reading her Elemental Masters series. They're based on fairy tales and while not romances, there is some romance in many of them.

Bookwormom said...

Anne E- Left you a comment re: LADM.

Nicole- Thanks for the heads up about ML. I think I'm definitely going to hunt for her books Wed. Do you know anything about her Elvenbane books?

Nicole said...

Not much about the Elvenbane books. I think I read the first one, but wasn't very impressed. The Valdemar books are all good, though. I'd recommend reading them in order, though.