Reviewed by Holly White
The Fairy Godmother is the first in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. If and when you read this book, be prepared to throw out the window everything you’ve ever known, expected, or believed about fairy tales and how they are supposed to go. This book will challenge all of that. However, this book will also simultaneously reinforce everything you’ve come to know, expect, or believe about fairy tales, but in the most unexpected way possible.
The Fairy Godmother tells us the story of young Elena, who was made to serve as a slave in her own home, taking orders from her overbearing stepmother and her self-centered stepsisters. However, the day comes when Elena meets … at last … her fairy godmother. You all know where the story goes from there … or do you? The fairy godmother, Bella, explains to Elena that there will be no handsome prince for her. Instead, Elena is offered an apprenticeship, to train to be the next fairy godmother in Bella’s place. Once she accepts this post, Elena’s training begins. Until one day when Bella abruptly decides Elena’s training is complete, and goes away almost without even saying goodbye.
Bella’s departure left Elena in charge of being the fairy godmother for more than one kingdom. She had to learn some things on the fly. She chose to do some magic differently than Bella would have done. She faced, among other things, a pregnant woman who craved rampian, an evil sorceress who did not really want to be evil, a herd of unicorns eating the plants in her garden, a group of questing young men seeking to win the heart of a princess, and the evil being who had taken that princess hostage. It was Elena’s job as fairy godmother to use and bend the magic of the Tradition to make these situations have a desired outcome, an outcome that would not only help those involved, but also the ancillary people who might be affected by their actions. All in all, it was a huge responsibility, but Elena faced it with aplomb, even if she felt ill-prepared or inadequate at times.
The Fairy Godmother is not your typical fairy tale, but it IS a fairy tale. If you love fairy tales, and especially if you love fairy tales with a bit of a twist, then this book is for you. It is a fairy tale for grownups, not only because it is not particularly appropriate in places for children, but also, it is a fairy tale for those of us who are a bit more jaded about life. It is for those of us who know that happy endings don’t come easy, that you have to work for them, but that they are all the more happy and all the more lasting because you did have to earn them.