I love this book. I’ve actually read it several times before, but felt like writing a review so I could explain to the world WHY I love this book. And also, to practice my critiquing skills.
This book takes the traditional fairy tales and twists them just a little in the most unique fashion I’ve encountered in all my reading experience. It starts out with a traditional Cinderella story opening. However, it becomes clear after the first few chapters that this is anything but the typical story retold. The heroine, Elena, is swept off her feet not by a prince, but by a fairy godmother, taking her to be apprenticed! Throughout the rest of the book you learn the magical roots of all the fairy tales and many new ones are born. Mercedes Lackey has an incredible imagination and several times as I read I thought, “How did she come up with that?” I couldn’t have thought up some of the elements in this book. I laughed frequently, and the ending was well-rounded. One of the things that bugs me about some books is that the ending is too corny or too tragic. This one was a little corny, but better than many. My favorite part was the house that Elena lived in. It kept “budding” new rooms and expanding. I loved it. Of course, all true fairytales have a prince, and this one is no exception. When Elena first meets her prince he’s an arrogant ass….
“‘You are as ill-mannered, as stubborn, and as stupid as an ass!’ she shouted, ‘So BE one!'”
As punishment, she turns him into one and makes him work for her on her farm. One of my favorite excerpts:
He was in a stable, in a stall. He was lying in a very odd position; he should have felt cramped, but he wasn’t. He looked down at himself.
He had four legs. Four stubby, hairy legs, ending in hooves.
He had in his life, on very few memorable occasions, come awake in a single moment. this was not the first time such a thing had happened, but it was certainly the worst.
He remembered everything, all in a rush. That horrible woman. The curse. Julian. The giant.
The memory sent a cold shock through him, jolting him into movement fueled by anger. All four hooves scrambling, he heaved himself up, braying at the top of his lungs, full of rage and despair.
And knocked himself senseless on the manger he’d somehow wedged himself underneath in the night.
Though much of this book is fabulous and incredibly imaginative, there was something to be desired. After Lackey left the traditional path, she found it again with Alexander and Elena’s love story without developing how it came about at all. It was all in a moment, rushed, and slightly ridiculous. The final “battle scene” felt a bit forced. It didn’t flow all that well.
Despite these shortcomings the book is fabulous. This was my fourth time reading it and I have no doubt that I’ll read it again!