Friday, May 24, 2013

Once Upon a Time Challenge Review: Fairy Godmothers, Inc.

Not a lot of reading or writing going on here. Instead: 3 rehearsals last week for our choir program, working with my kids to finish up their school year within the next few weeks, trying to get Ben on track to start community college in the fall, celebrating my husband's birthday . . . it's been a busy May.

I still haven't decided which level of the Once Upon a Time challenge I'm actually doing (which makes it not so much a challenge, I guess, as an inspiration to read outside my comfort zone). I read a mythology-based book last month for book club (Lavinia, which I haven't reviewed). This week I read a fairy tale-based book, Fairy Godmothers, Inc.

I'd accepted a copy of this book from Jolly Fish Press prior to starting the challenge--it wasn't my usual genre, but a new spin on the fairy godmother concept sounded quirky and fun. The concept, and the protagonist, Kate, definitely lived up to that expectation. Still, I was mostly confused as I tried to jump into the fairy tale world. Was it too big of a leap for this realistic fiction reader? No--the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone confused me, too, but once I was into HP, I was in for the long haul. With Fairy Godmothers, Inc. I was impatient with the book much of the time, all the way through till the end.

On reflection, I think it comes down to the side characters. Cinderella (Rellie) and Prince Rupert, for instance--they're more like caricatures from a kids' movie than fully developed characters. This was funny at times (which is the point, I think) but it was funny in the way that a DreamWorks movie is funny. The end result was some major characters that I didn't connect with, and a story that was cute, but lacked depth. There was so much promise, but I think in the end, "quirky and fun" aren't enough for me. I want something more out of a book.

I think this book will be popular as a light summer read, though, especially for people who love fairy tales turned sideways.


  1. I agree with you. The fairy tale pastiche has been done so much that any new attempts really need to up the bar. Sounds like this one didn't...

    I love your pictures of the gas works park. On my last visit to my Seattle daughter, she took me there and we had a lovely time.

  2. I have a similar reaction to many children's fantasy movies these days. Many of them seem to think cultural jokes, special effects, and quirky characters are enough. Even when the story is cute, it also feels like sugar. There was also a book based on fairy tales which read the same way. I agree with you with wanting more from my fiction.

  3. The title is so promising... But like Deb said above, there are so many fairy tale retellings, it takes something extraordinary to stand out!