Super fun book.
At first it seems like you are reading a re-telling of Cinderella. I must confess, I have always hated the Cinderella story. It always struck me as plain old child abuse. But while Elaine's story starts off as Cinderella,it veers rather sharply away from the familiar path of that tale.
As her disgruntled fairy Godmother tells her, there is no Prince available for her. The only one near enough is still just a toddler. And Elaine herself isn't getting any younger. And since the Fairy Godmother is also getting up in years and wants to retire, she has decided to make Elaine her Apprentice.
The nifty thing about this whole story -- and series -- is that the characters are aware that their lives are following a well trodden path created by something called Tradition. Tradition (always a capital 'T') is the familiar folk tales and stories that everyone knows. So while Elaine is one such Cinderella-trope she isn't the only one. There are young girls all over the 500 kingdoms who are drudging away with wicked stepmothers waiting to marry a Prince. Just as there are sleeping Princesses, various young men on quests, and young girls with long,long hair imprisoned in towers etc.
As a Fairy Godmother, Elaine's job is to steer these people's lives to their rightful conclusion. But as Elaine also learns she has the power to manipulate Tradition as well so that she can re-arrange outcomes. To me this is the fun part of the story, seeing what schemes Elaine comes up with to subtlely subvert the storyline of a given person.
There is a nice tone of humor throughout. One great scene involves the Maleficent-like evil sorceress who comes to curse a newly born Princess at her christening. It was a hoot to see how the Fairy Godmothers deal with that.
The book also includes a nice romance for Elaine who worries that her role as a Fairy Godmother means that she will live out her life in loneliness. But she finally does meet her Prince even if he is a bit of an ass at first. Literally.
This clever little story was such an unexpected delight, I may need to hunt up the next one.