Lil lives her life in a set routine. She gets up in her small unkempt apartment, has breakfast, and heads to Daedalus Books, where she works. Lil is more than just a book store cashier though — she is a fairy fallen from grace who must live out her life as a human, and with the hopes that she may one day redeem herself and return home to her family and friends. Fairies were perfect creatures, who longed for nothing and had the power to influence the human world.
Lil wasn’t just any fairy, however; the Elders had picked her to be none other than Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Her task was one of the most important: get Cinderella to the ball so that she could meet her prince and her destiny. This was the task she had been born for, but then something went very wrong — she fell in love with the prince herself. Taking Cinderella’s place at the ball, she is punished by the Elders and sent to live a human life. If she ever wants to return home, she must find a way to fix what she let fall, and when she is at her lowest point, she finds a way to do it.
Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story is a delicate story dealing with themes of duty or the failure to perform one’s duty, loss, abandonment, guilt and, ultimately, redemption. The story intertwines modern day New York with a fantastic fairy past paralleling Lil’s redemptive present with her fall from grace. While it did drag a little, I really liked the interludes into the past. It reminded me very much of Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose in this respect.
Actually, another similarity is that the fairy tale is an escape/defense mechanism for the main character. I have to admit I was hoping for the story to remain or return to the realm of fantasy, but in truth the story was never really fantasy. While I could predict most of the ending relatively early in the story, I did enjoy it as a whole. After reading Briar Rose, however, I was hoping this story would take a different approach.
I couldn’t put the book down; part of me really was enjoying it, and another part of me was hoping the ending wouldn’t be what I was expecting. Without spoiling it, in some ways it was exactly what I had guessed early on in the story, but the very end wasn’t. I wanted Lil to come to terms with her past, but in the end she didn’t grow as a character; she did what she had always done: escaped the truth. Perhaps the sad part is, in reality, many people don’t want to come to terms with the truth and this story is hard hitting in that it doesn’t give you the happy ending you want from a fairy tale.
As a whole the story is a quick and enjoyable read. It’s not the pick-me-up book of the year, but it is beautifully written. The pathos of the main character really pulls on your heart strings and you really want things to end well for her. Initially all of the characters seem fleshed out emotionally, but by the end you may feel as I did — that they were all somewhat static. Overall, an enjoyable read, if a bit of a downer.