Elena was supposed to be stuck in a tale. You know, the one where she sleeps by the fireplace, spending her days doing all sorts of grunge work for her stepmother and stepsisters? And then she gets to go to the ball and marry a prince?
Except she doesn’t.
She turns 21, and her stepmother and stepsisters decide that this part of the Kingdom isn’t doing them any favors (not to mention that their debts are mounting), so they take off and leave Elena the house. Which the debtors then claim. Elena figures that she can’t do any worse in life, so tries to get hired out.
And that’s when her life gets interesting. She is picked up as an Apprentice to the Fairy Godmother. See, in the 500 Kingdoms, there’s this thing called The Tradition: magic that is pushing, pulling, forcing people into tales. And it’s the Godmother’s role to direct, push, pull, prod and help people into, along in, or out of these stories. The best part of the book, I think, was working with Elena as she learned about the magic and how to manipulate the stories. The Tradition is a powerful thing, and if one doesn’t think about what one wishes, or even says, dire consequences abound. There were clever asides to several fairy tales, as well as the categorization of characters. It’s all very organized and delineated, which made me smile.
Of course, there has to be a love interest, and that shows up in the form of Alexander, the stubborn prince who ends up as a donkey for several chapters. He’s arrogant, angry and conceited, but he eventually learns his lesson and takes on his own destiny, which includes breaking tradition and falling in love with a Godmother. I expected things to slow way down, but Mercedes Lackey has got her books down (she should after as many as she’s written), and managed to throw a couple of steamy sex scenes in there as well as give us a big finale, both which served to, um, keep my interest.
It’s fluff, but it’s fun, enjoyable fantasy fluff. And I can’t say anything bad about that at all.
Rated: Moderate for several instances of mild swearing and two mildly graphic, breast-centric sex scenes.