Today's book review is The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey.
I admit it. I'm a Mercedes Lackey fan. I buy all of the books that she writes by herself, and I have yet to find one I didn't like. I also buy and read most of her collaborations, and I like most of them, although they are much less consistently good than her solo work.
I must admit that I was a little nervous when I started The Fairy Godmother. Traditional fairy tales aren't really my thing, and I wasn't sure if she'd come up with anything that was fresh. I should have trusted my first instinct, as I did when I bought it without considering anything but the author. The Cinderella story starts out just traditional enough to make it clear that's what it is, and then goes off in its own direction. As can be expected from the author, the intelligent, competent heroine manages to defy traditional expectations and becomes significant in her own right, and the evil stepmother and stepsisters get a satisfying comeuppance. I won't give away any more of the main plot. A simple, fairly sappy story; as long as it's well-written and quick, not a total waste of time.
But the cool part is what's woven in around this plot. The source of magic in this world, and the reason stories like this happen, is a semi-sentient force called The Tradition. When ordinary people have the misfortune to have their lives start to look like the characters of a traditional fairy tale, The Tradition tries to push them into actually living out the fairy tale. But since a lot of fairy tales aren't really all that great for a lot of the people in them, it's important to have someone out there guiding The Tradition, so that the really nasty tales don't get repeated, and even the not-so-awful ones don't happen to people who'd rather just live their own lives. Fairy Godmothers, along with good Wizards, Sorcerers, and others, serve to work with, or occasionally against, The Tradition, to make life as good as possible for everyone around them.
I will note that this book is the first that Lackey has written for Yet Another Publisher: Luna, which is an imprint of (oh the horror) Harlequin. And I also note that the cover declares this "A Novel of the Five Hundred Kingdoms". This could be the beginning of a series, and I have to say that worries me, because while this book was fun and interesting, I'm not sure that there's that much more to say about the metastory -- this stuff about The Tradition and trying to control it rather than being controlled by it. If that part of the story either becomes repetitive or gets lost, further books in the series are likely to be nothing but pink bubblegum flavored cotton candy -- and pink bubblegum isn't my favorite flavor.
Overall, quick, lighthearted, and fun, but with something cool to think about too. I give it a 9 out of 10.