Review: The Fairy Godmother, A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms (Book 1)

By: Mercedes Lackey

Available on: Amazon, Audible, and Barnes and Noble.

Read as part of the 2020 Golden Trio Reading Challenge, prompt: Transfiguration!

Overview:

Blurb: The first book of a series, The Fairy Godmother introduces us to the world of the Five Hundred Kingdoms and the Tradition. Elena Klovis was to be her kingdom’s version of Cinderella, complete with an evil step-family and the nickname “Ella Cinders”. One problem: the prince is eleven. Elena seeks out work and is taken as apprentice to a real-life Fairy Godmother, her own fairy godmother no less. She begins training to become a Fairy Godmother herself and all the wonders, and troubles, that come with it. One of those is a Prince by the name of Alexander that turns out to be a total ass. Well, at least he turns into one after trying to mow down Elena. Now, Elena has more kingdoms to take care of, a royal jackass on her hands, and a lot more adventure on her plate than she first assumed she would encounter.

Trigger Warnings:

Blood, Bullying, Child Abuse (mentioned), Death, Emotional Abuse, Food, Murder, Violence, Violent Imagery

Body Count: Human: 3, mentioned but not displayed.

Overall review:

  • Thoughts:
    • What I liked: This story is a wonderful introduction to the world of the Five Hundred Kingdoms and the interesting consequences of magic and the Tradition of Faerie Tales being applied to actual people. The pacing was generally good, and I enjoyed the characters Robin, Hob, Lily, and Rose.
    • What I didn’t like: I love Mercedes Lackey. There was a spot or two where it lagged a bit in pacing, but there was a lot of information for world building necessary. So it kind of makes sense.
  • Was it engaging?
    • Yes
  • Favorite Character:
    • Elena Klovis, the Fairy Godmother.
  • Least Favorite Character:
    • Madame Klovis, the useless harridan that she is.

Rating out of five: 4.5 out of 5

To Read or Not To Read (Again):

Yes, Kept by My Bedside (as this is my third re-read of it.)

The Technical Specs:

Representation, Morality, and Sexism in Media Tests:

  • Bechdel–Wallace Test: Pass!
    • Do two female characters talk about something other than a male character? Yes
  • Deggan’s Rule Test: Fail
    • Are there at least two non-white human characters in the main cast in a story not primarily focused on race? No
  • DuVernay Test: Fail
    • Are there fully actualized characters of color? No
  • Ellen Willis Test: Pass
    • Would two related characters still work to carry the story if their genders were reversed? Yes
  • Hays Code: Half-Pass
    • Part One: outdated moral guidelines
      • Are there any outdated “moral content” rules gloriously kicked in the teeth by this story? Murder, happy queer characters, profanity, etc. No
    • Part Two: queer representation
      • Are there queer characters that get a happy ending? No
      • Do the queer characters die? Not applicable
    • Part Three: age and agency:
      • Is there an illegal or otherwise distasteful age gap between characters, queer or otherwise? No
  • Mako Mori Test: Pass
    • Is there a female character that gets her own arc? Yes
  • Mary Sue/Gary Stu Test: Pass
    • Is the main character completely flawless and persecuted by other characters needlessly? No
    • Take a Mary Sue test here!
  • Sexy Lamp Test: Pass
    • Would the plot fall apart if the female character was replaced by a sexy looking lamp? Absolutely
    • Post-It Note Caveat:
      • Would the character be able to be replaced by a Sexy Lamp with a sticky note on it for information conveyance? Nope
  • Tauriel Test: Yes
    • Is there at least one woman in the story who is competent in her chosen occupation and not immediately shown up by a newcomer male character? Yes
    • If she has or develops a love interest during the story, either implied or explicitly stated, does she suddenly abandon her job and/or chosen path to support or pursue said love interest? Nope
  • Topside Test: Fail
    • Are there two or more trans characters in the story that know each other and do they talk about anything other than medical transition procedures? No
    • I acknowledge that most common media lacks decent trans representation.
  • Vito Russo Test: Fail
    • Is there a character on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum spectrum who is a character beyond their orientation and do they actually affect the plot and are something beyond a punchline? No
      • What does that stand for? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual/Biromantic/Bigender, Transgender, Queer/Genderqueer, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender, Pansexual/Panromantic

You can read more about the various Media Tests I employ in my reviews at GeekFeminism.wikia.org or by clicking the header on the individual test. Why include all these? Because I can, because representation matters, and because I’m neurotic.

Review format updated 14 April 2020

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