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Once upon a time in a land far far away........
The Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey
Member Name: historywitch
The Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey
Advantages: Easy to read, good basic story, light and fluffy
Disadvantages: Light and fluffy at the expense of a good storyline
Having read some meaty and serious books over the last month, I have been looking for lighter and less intense reading material! Not being a huge fan of modern literature, especially the chick lit genre, I turned instead towards the fantasy section on Amazon where I found this novel by Mercedes Lackey. I haven't come across her before but she appears to be an established 'light fantasy' writer, whose work seems designed to appeal more to women than men. The cover of this book immediately suggested I wasn't going to have to engage too much of my brain so I turned half of it off and settled down to read it.
Elena Klovis lives in one of the Five Hundred Kingdoms where the mighty magical guiding force of Tradition encourages the people to live out fairy tales. Elena should have been her country's Cinderella but the prince of her kingdom is underage and she is left to suffer life with her stepmother and sisters. She is rescued by a Fairy Godmother and is trained up to help other people reach their happy endings, occasionally by thwarting and reorganising Tradition. One of her stories puts her in a difficult position and she comes home with a prince that she has turned into a donkey-what will happen next?
I have to say that this book surprised me a little as I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much. Sure, there is no depth of description, the dramatic events are obvious and the romance takes no complicated twists and turns, but there was enough there to encourage me to finish it in one day. The story was interesting and was a take on the traditional fairy story that was both unique in my experience and amusing, but also well thought out enough to seem at least slightly plausible. I have read some truly appalling books in the past and I can say that this is certainly not the worst book I have ever read, indeed it is nowhere near it (it is also nowhere near the best either though!).
Whilst the characters are relatively shallowly plotted, the two main characters have been fleshed out enough to generate some emotions in the reader. Elena in particular is a very strong and capable heroine who is very easy to like and sympathise with, although her counterpart Prince Alexander has a less appealing or deep personality (thank goodness for magic!). The secondary characters are often only thin sketches, lacking more than the most perfunctory description and just merging into the background. This is the main area I disliked about this book, I feel this one set of storylines is good enough to have been expanded into several books and I would have loved to have heard more about the Five Hundred Kingdoms and some of the other characters. Instead we get a slightly superior romance story, with tantalising glimpses into alternative storylines or explanations. More description and filling out of the plot would have made it more convincing and enjoyable for me.
There are adult themes in this book; some very funny (but sadly not intentionally) sex scenes which had me sniggering I'm afraid. Its very hard to write good sex scenes and I think in this case Ms Lackey would have been better off with the trite 'and she fell into his arms' as the sniggering sort of ruined whatever other emotions she was trying to excite in me.
So, my conclusion is that this is a fluffy and light romance story but with the potential to have been so much more. It is perfectly enjoyable, completely unchallenging (although I could say the opposite about the appalling font that has been chosen for this edition) and is a step up from the soft focus romances favoured by women of a certain age and the brash, label obsessed chicklit with pictures of shoes and bras on the cover. The use of a fairy tale world has an appealing charm and also enables plot twists etc that are only capable in a story when you can say 'its magic, that's why!' as an explanation for something!
There are other books in the Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms Series- currently:
One Good Knight
***ISBN and Price***
Amazon have it for £3.41 which isn't bad for 496 pages.
Summary: Adult reworking of fairytales