The Fairy Godmother
Elena has two mean stepsisters and the worst stepmother imaginable. Sound familiar? It should. But the story doesn’t turn out for Elena exactly as one would expect. Elena has been waiting for her handsome prince for a long time but noone has turned up – except a dotty old lady who says she’s her fairy godmother.
Elena is a strong-willed female protagonist that lots of people will love and identify with. She isn’t content with her lot, and is willing to make a go of whatever happened – no matter how strange that proposition actually turns out to be. Her character development is satisfactory, which is useful because she focalises the majority of the book.
Elena’s price, Alex,is a little too predictable for my liking – but then he is following a Traditional path. I found the turning of his character to be unlikely, and it was entirely explained away by magic, rather than a series of small improvements as you would expect. I suppose that is really a side effect of The Tradition.
This is a comfort book for me, I enjoy rereading it often. Although the plot progression is quite slow, and few large things actually happen, it does keep you reading. Elena is so ingenious, you wonder what solution she will decide on. The ending is a bit rushed, and a little out of keeping with the tone of the rest of the book, but I guess Lackey felt that a climax of some kind was required.
You do need some familiarity with fairytales in order to fully understand this book. For example, when Elena first enters the Fairy Godmother’s house, there is a room full of interesting objects that Elena doesn’t recognise – but the reader should (such as a tiny slipper and a swan cloak). There are numerous other references to other fairytale traditions, so it is obvious that Lackey has done her research.
This is the first book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Lackey, and it provides a great introduction into the world. Elena features in some of the other books in this series (some yet to be reviewed, and the latest one reviewed here). As a comparatively older book by Lackey, I found it to be far more interesting and well constructed than some of her new books that I have reviewed.
I’d recommend this book for adults and older teenagers. There are explicit sex scenes in this book. Other than that, there isn’t anything particularly controversial that I can see, it’s just a good remade fairytale book.