02/11/2004 Entry: "Mercedes Lackey's THE FAIRY GODMOTHER--Lynn's review"
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Mercedes Lackey's THE FAIRY GODMOTHER takes place in generic fantasyland but is deliberately recursive and self-referential in its exploration of magic and plot. This would have been fabulous if Lackey had pulled it off completely, but it is still pretty darn good.
Our heroine is in a conventional Cinderella tale (exactly precisely) but there is no suitable prince, so she ends up as a Fairy Godmother herself. "Tradition" is a/the source of magic and will continue to push individuals to fit patterns in a fairly-acknowledged creepy way. She rescues one of the typical "three princes on a quest" and turns him into a donkey, and he learns his lesson. But she resists falling in love and being pushed by tradition back into one happily ever after. Together they manage to move to a new paradigm, though, one where he and she become co-magic workers doing interesting fun stuff. In the process they rescue his brother's beloved and fix assorted outside evil.
This story is fun, partly because it "knows" it is a fairy tale and pushes against the boundaries. What it lacks is any of the depths of Lackey's THE FIRE ROSE or any of the other Elementals books. The setting is "fairy tale land" and it never quite goes beyond it, although the characterization is much more competent and consistent than in Catherine Asaro's THE CHARMED SPHERE, the other Luna book I've read so far. But in spite of being recursive in a way that a literary author might envy, the characters are out of central casting with only a light gloss of personality. Just to be clear, though, I liked the book.--Lynn