Published: November 1st, 2004
The Fairy Godmother (The Five Hundred Kingdoms # 1)
By: Mercedes Lackey
In the land of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, if you can't carry out your legendary role, life is no fairy tale....
Elena Klovis was supposed to be her kingdom's Cinderella -- until fate left her with a completely inappropriate prince! Determined not to remain with her stepfamily, Elena set out to get a new job -- and ended up becoming the Fairy Godmother for the land. But breaking with "The Tradition" was no easy matter. True, she didn't have to sleep in the chimney, but she had to deal with arrogant, stuffed-shirt princes who kept trying to rise above their place in the tale. In fact, one of them was so ornery that Elena could do nothing but change him into a donkey.
Still, her practical nature couldn't let him roam the country, so she brought the donkey -- er, the prince! -- home to her cottage to teach him some lessons. All the while keeping in mind that breaking with tradition can land everyone into a kettle of fish -- sometimes literally!
And so begins a whole new tale...
Elena Klovis has a miserable life with her demanding and cruel Stepmother and two Stepsisters. She is forced to cook, clean, dress in rags and live on almost nothing. Unknown to her, Elena has magic swirling around her, building up due to her unfulfilled potential - she was supposed to be her kingdom's Cinderella. But with an unsuitable Prince she is eventually rescued by a Fairy Godmother, who offers to train Elena as her replacement. Excited to have a way out, Elena agrees. Then she finds out firsthand how hard it can be to circumvent the Tradition, a magical force that steers people into retelling fairy tales, folk stories, ballads, etc. in their real lives without them having any choice in the matter. When she is helping questers and trying to avoid tragedies, Elena comes across a Prince who goes too far. She does the only thing she can think of - she turns him into the donkey (ass) that she thinks he already is. Elena must find a way to help the Prince realize how to become a better man. But can she accomplish it without losing her heart in the process? It is really easy to love this book. I am already a major sucker for anything to do with fairy tales, or re-tellings of them. I loved the aspect of Fairy Godmothers having to fight against an unseen and unintelligent force like the Tradition. It explains why so many people don't get a happy ending. Elena was a good heroine, wanting to do the right thing, easy to empathize with and with a sense of humor. By no means was she perfect, but that just made her even more fun to read about. Prince Alexander was not appealing to me until almost the end of the novel. He truly was a complete ASS for most of the book, constantly being cruel to Elena and barely viewing her as a person. The side characters were interesting as well, especially the Maleficent type character who only wanted to be loved for who she was (she had been alone all her life except when an evil sorceress took her in) and the village woman Rosalie, who narrowly escaped having a 'Ladderlocks' (Rapunzel) child. The unnecessary sex scenes were a bit discouraging, but there were only a couple so they were fairly easily overlooked. The book does take a little while to really gain any speed, the plot dragging through the beginning Cinderella portion quite a bit. But once it gets going it is truly funny and wonderful to read. I really liked this book for its originality and sense of humor. Highly recommended to fans of fairy tales.
VERDICT: 4/5 Stars
*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*