Dear Ms Lackey,
From perusing your backlists I know that you have written several series. I was delighted with “The Fairy Godmother” and am happy to see you’ve already followed it with another story set in The Five Hundred Kingdoms.
The Five Hundred Kingdoms are fairy tales come to life. The Tradition is always in effect here, trying to nudge people towards the best fairy tale to which they’re suited. Well, this is fine, well and good when the circumstances are right to fulfill one but when things go astray, resident Fairy Godmothers are available to step in and avert mistakes and tragedies. Take, for instance, Elena Klovis. If ever there was a girl destined to be a Cinderella, it’s Elena but since the only prince near her is 11 years old, that story just isn’t going to work out. Elena is amazed when her elderly Fairy Godmother proposes something different and takes Elena on as an apprentice. Soon Elena is guiding her kingdom and working with The Tradition to make things right. And one thing she knows needs work is Alexander, an arrogant prince out on his quest. Well, let’s just see if turning him into a donkey and putting him to work will effect an attitude adjustment. That is, until Dark Forces invade the Kingdom and Elena needs everybody to help avert disaster.
I find that I like the book better than hardcore fantasy readers might but maybe this is a result of not having read as much of the genres as they have. I feel that you did a good job laying the ground rules in this world and have an answer for most of my “why can’t she” or “why is it that” questions. Again, for someone who’s read lots of these types of books, it might not do as well but for the average lay-fantasy reader, it is fine.
I agree with other reviewers that you’re enjoying turning the fairy tales I remember from childhood slightly askew. And you tell the story in a fairy tale way, with lots of descriptions and explanations. The characters are fun (especially the slightly vacuous unicorns who go all ditzy in the presence of a virgin) and you have fun with them. But I also think that the second half of the story did move a bit more slowly and might have been the better for more editing.
The ending was different and satisfied me enough romantically but I went into the story not expecting it to be a regular “romance.” The Fairy Godmother does end up with her own HEA so readers don’t need to worry. B