Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Tags: fantasy, fractured fairy tale, magic


Elena’s miserable life as her stepfamily’s slave should’ve qualified her to have a Cinderella-like happy ending. However, things don’t quite work out that way. Instead, Elena becomes a fairy godmother-in-training. Her primary duty involves working with the Tradition, a powerful magic that tries to force people and situations into recognizable story arcs.

Being Fairy Godmother, however, is a lonely life, and Elena is not sure if her desire to love and be loved can handle such loneliness. Can she find a way to make everyone happy and get her own happy ending?


I have heard of Mercedes Lackey, of course—what fantasy reader hasn’t?—but, until this book, had not read anything by her. I picked up THE FAIRY GODMOTHER on a whim in the bookstore, when I was still on a post-Crown Duel high and desiring a similarly pleasurable fantasy read. THE FAIRY GODMOTHER definitely fulfilled that desire of mine. It’s a wonderfully unique concept, crafted by the hands of a master.

The most amazing part about this book is the thoroughness with which Mercedes Lackey explores an original fantasy concept. There are some pretty standard tropes in fairy tales: long-suffering good girl gets the prince, magic helps the overlooked but goodhearted and deserving third son, and so on. Lackey takes those common expectations and transforms it into the Tradition, a powerful and often dangerously insistent magical force that tries to carry out its tropes without any regard to people’s different wishes, and that must be appeased through subtle manipulations. It’s enchantingly clever, a new take on the fractured fairy tale, and would give someone like me oodles of delight as we consider how Lackey lays out the plot and rules in this world.

The characters, in contrast, do not shine as strongly. Elena is a fine, strong female protagonist, but she doesn’t particularly stand out beyond being a typical fine, strong female protagonist. The main plot here is the magical one, and so the romantic subplot is exactly that—a subplot, feeling a little forced and out of place at times.

Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed THE FAIRY GODMOTHER on account of its wonderfully executed original concept. Upon finishing this book, I eagerly went out and found the other books in this series, and will look forward to delving into them when I get the chance!

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Cover discussion: I was totally drawn by its fantastical-ness. The whimsical, feminine colors, the font... okay, and I didn't look too hard at the models, especially that man in the background.

Luna / May 1, 2010 / Mass Market Paperback (reprint) / 487pp. / $7.99

Personal copy.


  1. Mercedes Lackey is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I do enjoy her 500 Kingdoms series because I've always loved fairy tales and I like her twist on them. However, her Valdemar series even better. She's a fabulous world-builder.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. Looks like an unique book. I don't usually go for much fantasy but I'm going to look this one up and give it a try

  3. This is one of my favorite Mercedes Lackey books ^.^ I'm glad to see other people discovering it!

  4. This was my first book by her, too! I saw it when it was new in HC at my local B&N a few years ago. I borrowed it from the library, loved it, and bought it used. Now I read all of this series. I'm reading the Elemental Masters fairytale books by her now, too. I'm not too sure of her next 500 Tales book, though. Beauty and the Werewolf, really?

    Have you read Jim C. Hines? I'm reading him right now. So far, I've only finished The Stepsister Scheme so far, but it was good! I like that he focuses on obscure versions of the fairytales we might not know. For example, in this one, one of the stepsisters tried to assassinate Cinderella...just like in an older version of the tale...


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