Modern teenagers are a puzzle. These specimens of humanity don’t really need magic when they have notable attitudes, the gift of selfish persuasion, and non-negotiable whining skills that work charms on adults, not to mention all those modern gadgets and advanced technology they are experts on. However, when it comes to romantic troubles, every girl just might need a fairy godmother to make everything right.
Take Jane and Savannah Delano, for example. They may look alike, but these two sisters could not be more different or opposite in temperament, aside from their one similarity. Jane is a bookworm and a disciplined high school student, while Savannah is a popular, self-taught beautician and the queen of teenage know-how. Despite that Jane’s a senior and Savannah’s a sophomore, they both manage to fall in love with the same boy, an all-star student who happens to be Savannah’s boyfriend.
When Hunter returns Jane’s feelings and breaks up with Savannah, the modern equivalent of the magical world decides to send “fashion diva” fairy Chrysanthemum Everstar to take care of Savannah as an extra-credit project. Well, “Chrissy” is only a “fair godmother,” and Savannah is only an assignment Chrissy never wanted. After three magic wishes and serious misunderstanding on the fairy godmother’s part, Savannah is dumped into the Middle Ages, where she’ll have to deal with dangerous knights, arrogant princes, and her own issues while living through actual fairy tales. In My Fair Godmother, fairy tales and wishes go beyond usual expectations for “happily ever after” and change lives. Can Savannah find the boy meant for her and get out of these disastrous scenarios?
These days, authors seem to know how to not only speak teenage jargon but also understand modern teenagers’ mentalities. Janette Rallison is one of these interpreters of modern society’s behavior through her enchanting fairy tale of a novel, My Fair Godmother. This young adult novel stands out from among its peers on the shelves through its author’s originality and creativity. The “prologue” of the novel is one example of this by introducing readers to both main characters and getting them to sympathize equally with Jane and Savannah. The beginning is narrated by Chrissy and her smart advice, but the remainder of the story is taken over by the voice of Savannah with her own perspective of the storyline. In this way, Rallison creates an unusual bond between her readers and the characters of Jane and Savannah, two teenage sisters who have to struggle through their differences and learn to accept each other, by presenting all angles of the girls’ circumstances and their contention over Hunter.
Another fantastic part of My Fair Godmother is the way that the author simultaneously combined history, fantasy, and fairy tale retellings within the same story. Time travel and romance are also intricate companions to the main themes during the characters’ journeys. Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are both reinvented in the Middle Ages, which brings out more comical moments and caustic humor than would be possible in a modern setting. Savannah experiences the life of Cinderella thanks to Chrissy, where certain details and the climax of the original tale become all too clear, e.g. Cinderella’s stepsisters deserved their nasty epithets, the stepmother definitely was a wicked tyrant, and the only thing “Prince Charming” deserved was a serious personality makeover.
The same occurs in Snow White when Savannah is again cast as the heroine, who this time is not hard-working and obedient but a foolish simpleton who doesn’t know how to do anything. Like in the instance when Savannah publicly defies Cinderella’s stepmother, Savannah’s attempt to name each of the disrespectful dwarfs according to the Walt Disney animated film is hilarious. It is noteworthy that Rallison’s retellings of these two popular tales bring a lot of common sense and logical thinking to the foreground, as well as explaining particular peculiarities concerning the characters and their actions. Also, one of the intriguing features of My Fair Godmother is that Rallison faithfully focuses on her main characters until the end, even if it means leaving the fates of the fairy tales behind as a small mystery.
While magical intervention in mortals’ lives is proven during the course of the novel to be more of a curse than a blessing, three lessons Savannah will learn the hard way is to never depend on a fairy godmother, never expect magical beings to be helpful, and never take modern living or modern conveniences for granted. It is stimulating to see the glaringly realistic environment of the Middle Ages compared to that of modern times, as Rallison does a virtual exposé on how the inhabitants of the medieval world really had no personal hygiene or decent existence and endured very rigid (and prejudiced) class division, compliments of the corrupted feudal system and the very ignoble, power-hungry aristocracy. Whether it’s a quest to kill a dragon, make a primeval version of gunpowder, or defeat the mysterious Black Knight with magic, My Fair Godmother will surprise and impress readers with its intelligence, its stirring realistic take on history, and its romantic fantasy.