3 out of 5
While not the usual fantasy, The Fairy Godmother does fit Tolkien’s definition of a fairy tale or fantasy. Set in a world where fairy tales come true and fairy godmothers attempt to control the outcomes it is more a fantasy romance. Ella’s life has all the makings of a fairy tale, dead father, evil stepmother and stepsisters, forced to cook and clean, she should find her prince. Unfortunately the only nearby prince is only 11. In swoops the Fairy Godmother taking Ella as an apprentice and showing her how the Tradition works. A major theme in the story is how does a woman with power find love without being forced into one of the Traditional paths. As Fairy Godmother Ella is charged with helping questors and get tangled up with one. The story follows a traditional romance path while exploring the way men and women view relationships. Ella is definitely not a woman in need of a white knight. She has given up any hope of finding a man who will be her equal. While not a traditional fantasy it is an interesting view of fairy tales and their treatment of women. Lackey has written a number of re-takes on famous fairy tales and this book is a logical continuation of that work. It is the first novel in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series. While it is is a fun book to read, I did not find it to be as complicated a world as those she created in her Valdamar series. I was also concerned with the main character’s use of punishment to “train” a man. Physical punishment is only threatened and never used but I don’t quite see how that differs from it’s use by men to “train” women. In the end I find I prefer Lackey’s other work.