by Kate Wolford
She’s tall and elegant, or tiny with a dowager’s hump. Maybe she’s dressed for a soirée at Versailles or she’s a tired-looking poor old woman who asks nothing more than to have a drink of fresh water from a well. She has many faces, and is often not even a “she,” as men are sometimes cast in this role.
This fabled creature is, as you’ve already guessed, the fairy godmother. We remember her best as the generous fairy who dresses Cinderella and handles transportation while she’s at it. But that’s just the most famous fairy godmother’s tale. Baba Yaga is a fairy godmother with a sense of rough justice, rewarding good heroines with what they need to prevail. The fairies in “Diamonds and Toads” and Mother Holle stories are in the vein of Baba Yaga, as they punish unkind young women as equally as they reward their kindly sisters.
With just a little more imagination, you’ll find that fairy godmothers/fathers abound in other tales in a less obvious way. I consider Rumpelstiltskin to be a highly misunderstood fairy godfather. He wants a child, and we don’t know that a baby wouldn’t be better off with him or the baby’s actual parents: A terrified mother who was willing to bargain away a future child to save her own life and a greedy father who was willing to kill a hapless miller’s daughter if she couldn’t produce the gold he wanted.
Then there’s the fairy in “Beauty and the Beast,” who ultimately creates a beautiful future for the haughty, vain young prince she makes a beast. You could also argue that the little fellows from “The Elves and the Shoemaker” are fairy godfathers, as they create a prosperous future for the very grateful shoemaker, who, in turn, gifts them with clothes.
The appeal of the fairy godmother/father lies in our wish that someone might appear, and, with a tap of a jewel-encrusted wand, transform our lives with money, status and great clothes. Better yet, the stories appeal to our sense that someone might notice our own good deeds and reward them, as far too many of us do feel that in this tough old world, no good deed goes unpunished.
Yet I think that there is greater appeal in being the magical godparent. What a joy to transform the lives of others with a simple gesture. What a thrill to know you’ve helped make someone’s dreams come true. The good news is, most of us have fairy godparents of a sort, even if they aren’t truly magical, for many people transform our lives with simple generosity and kindness.
Perhaps you’ve been in the position to give a neighbor kid the chance to build a lawn care business. Or, you’re the teacher who saw through a sullen student’s mask and suggested books that made her really think for the first time. Or you’re the aunt or uncle who allowed a nephew to stay with you for his senior year of high school so he wouldn’t have to move away from friends. Maybe you’ve befriended a lonely senior citizen who’s now part of your extended family.
In any case, the magic of transformation and support is interwoven throughout our lives, and we usually don’t even realize it. Luckily, the authors in this anthology have channeled magic and found gold, and you’ll see that these dozen stories will enchant you and inspire your dreams.
In “Wishes to Heaven,” Michelle Tang mixes a fairy godmother in truly unusual form with a pregnant woman who loves her husband and her life with him, but is in dire need of help in the most basic ways. The path Tang takes to manage the story is fascinating and, frankly, unique in my reading experience.
In “A Story of Soil and Stardust,” Kelly Jarvis takes us to snowy Russia, and interweaves fairy godmothering, family dynamics and justice, with a special doll and an appealing protagonist to make for a delightful read that sweeps you away. And the dynamics between sisters is riveting in Jarvis’s story.
“Real Boy” by Marshall J. Moore is another sweeping story that takes a familiar fairy tale and spins it into a saga of creation, flight, loss and confusion with a satisfying ending. The best thing I can say about this engrossing story is that it was inspired by my least favorite fairy tale. That Moore could overcome my antipathy to the inspiration for his work is testimony to the quality of the story.
Lynden Wade takes us into what it’s like to be a fairy godmother in “Returning the Favor.” You’ll fall in love with the fairy godmother in this story, who is wise and loving. And you’ll get a peek into what happens to a fairy godmother’s charge after the “happily ever after.” Most of all, you’ll be startled by the form of the fairy godmother. It all works.
Elise Forier Edie brings wit, adventure, humor and exasperation in “My Last Curse.” The ambitions of a too-hopeful and overly controlling Queen make this story great fun to read. And our protagonist is a delightfully sassy fairy in a very unusual form. (Fairy godmothers in unusual forms is a terrific theme in this anthology.) It’s all good fun. Forier Edie’s work has appeared in other anthologies I’ve edited, and you’ll see why when you read “My Last Curse.”
“Face in the Mirror” by Sonni de Soto explores “Beauty and the Beast” from a surprising vantage point, with engrossing results. I don’t want to ruin the story for you by saying which other fairy tale it reflects, but I can say that making friendship rather than romantic love the basis for this entertaining and heartwarming story was the best choice.
Vivica Reeves weaves loss, love, snow and warmth together artfully in “Forgetful Frost.” The pain of loss and the intensity of true love and parental dedication made this an unforgettable story. Reeves’ words get you in the gut in the best possible way, and the protagonist is an especially touching character.
Carter Lappin’s “Modern Magic” is a candy-colored slice of fun involving lattes, smart phones, garbage and bunny slippers. Sounds fun, right? It is fun. You’ll enjoy the modern fairy godmother and her protégée as well as the many charming touches that make this story a light and entertaining read.
“In the Name of Gold” by Claire Noelle Thomas, takes us through the deep pain and sacrifice of one of the most beloved fairy tales. The power of ink and quill and true love and friendship make this story shine like gold, and in the end, you’ll feel you know the story Thomas’s work is based on in a new and unforgettable way.
Maxine Churchman’s “Of Wishes and Fairies” spins elements like a lost princess and a loving foster mother with the trials and errors of a brand-new fairy godmother to create a sweet and satisfying tale with a happy ending—which is just the ending it should have. You’ll enjoy the fun and lightheartedness of this story.
Kim Malinowski’s “Flick: The Fairy Godmother” blends struggles with anxiety with household chores, serious battles and a titular heroine who is always doing her best despite the challenges she faces. You’ll remember Flick, and the brews she ingests to make herself feel better long after you’ve finished reading her story.
“The Venetian Glass Girl,” by Abi Marie Palmer rounds out this delightful dozen with a story of exquisite craftsmanship, envy, skullduggery and bigotry into a highly readable and satisfying story that takes you to Venice and its canals as well as a glassblower’s workshop. You’ll be swept away.
Before I sign off, there are some people I’d like to thank: Sarena Ulibarri, editor-in-chief of World Weaver Press, who is gracious in the face of the challenges that beset me during every book I edit. Amanda Bergloff, who is essential to my sanity at Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, was a great help with editing and formatting the manuscript for this book, and I am most grateful for that.
My husband and daughter, and her family, are always great sources of inspiration and love in every creative endeavor I take on, and this book is no exception. My grandson Ben gives me a great incentive to put together books that he will someday enjoy. I thank them all.
Finally, the readers and writers at Enchanted Conversation make me want to do my best because their love of fairy tales and folklore rivals my own, and they have my gratitude.
May this book bring you as much joy as a tap of the wand from your fairy godmother.
Kate Wolford is a writer, editor, and blogger living in the Midwest. Fairy tales are her specialty. Previous books include Beyond the Glass Slipper: Ten Neglected Fairy Tales to Fall in Love With, Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus, Frozen Fairy Tales, and Skull and Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga all published by World Weaver Press. She was the founder of Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, at fairytalemagazine.com.
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