This a novel with a lot of heart, a good dollop of humour, a sprinkling of politics and an anti-establishment message and it really did me good to read something that didn’t take itself too seriously.
Bea is a cabbage fairy, but a cabbage fairy with ambition. She wants to be a Fairy Godmother but this is not the land of fairy tales that we grew up with. There’s a sinister organisation that controls the stories and the denizens of Fairyland are being repressed. The threat of redaction hangs heavy over everyone.
This is a wonderfully subversive look at Fairy Tales and it questions the notions of free will, true love and destiny, all while riffing on fairy tale tropes and bureaucracy. At its best, it reminded a good deal of Discworld, with a smattering of Eoin Colfer and a fair amount of Jodi Taylor.
Bea is a great protagonist, she just wants to get on and create her own plots, but as a fairy, she faces discrimination from the denizens. The spread of fay races are pure Enid Blyton but their way of interacting is utterly contemporary. She has her friends, Melly and Joan. Her new boss Mistasinon who are supportive but something isn’t right belief is getting harder and harder to come by. The Teller is tightening regulations on all citizens and narrative creativity is something that can lead to the fairy in question getting redacted. There is the threat of Anti-Narrativists who are chaotic and trying to bring down civilisation as they know it.
This is a bubbly start to a new series which I will certainly pick up the sequels too. F D Lee balances the fun tone with levity when needed and there are some political analogies which feel more than a little pertinent.
I loved the little fairy tale motifs littered throughout the novel. Sindy with her glass slipper necklace, there are more but I don’t want to spoil anything for new readers. A proper joy from start to finish.