Monday, March 14, 2016

The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker by E.D. Baker, 2014

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on Goodreads 
Cory is a young tooth fairy in training who wants to be anything but that, except there's no way the Tooth Fairy Guild or her mother will let that happen. After yet another bad night on the job, Cory quits to explore other things—like babysitting an adventurous Humpty Dumpty, helping Suzy organize seashells by the seashore, and attempting to finally rid the spiders that plague Marjorie Muffet. But it isn't until Marjorie asks Cory to help set her up with a boy that Cory taps into a power she never knew she had. As she tries to understand her new-found romantic visions, will Cory finally discover her own true path?
Just as she did with her Wide-Awake Princess series, E. D. Baker spins a tale that is poised to launch her to the top of the fairy tale canon with a new series that fans of Gail Carson Levine and Diana Wynne Jones.

(352 pages)

When I originally saw this coming out, I thought it looked really dumb. I mean, a book about a girl who goes around setting up couples? How dumb would that be? I barely scanned the synopsis before clicking away, and never even gave it a try.

Until a week ago, when I saw it sitting on a library shelf and grabbed it because, well, I might as well because it was there anyway. When I got it home and started reading, I realized that I'd made a mistake: The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker was nothing like what I'd expected to be - and it was much the better for it.

After all, just for starters Cory's world is really fascinating. I read a lot of fairy-tale mashups, but this has to be one of my favorites. I mean, a world where people communicate by basket mail (which is just like texting, but way cooler) and various fairy-tale characters and stereotypes are all mixed together in a magical land that lives next to but is completely separate from the human world.

Another great thing about The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker is that it's realistic (if the word can ever be applied to fairytale mashups) - Cory is an adult trying to find a job that suits her, and she bounces around doing odds and ends in the meantime. There's a beauty in watching the little random things come together in new ways, as by the end of the book Cory's found ways to make almost everyone's life a little bit better by introducing them to other people she's encountered in her wanderings. I like to think that this same sort of falling into place can happen in real life, though I know that's not always the case.

My biggest trouble with the book, honestly, is the ending. Once things get a little darker for Cory and she starts uncovering the hardcore secrets her mother kept from her the book lost some of its appealing rationalism. There's a certain appeal in what happens, though, and I think that it just depends on what sort of mood you're in when you read it. For me it worked, though just barely, and I was interested enough in the turn things took that I immediately went and requested the sequel. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, but I'll be sure to post a review once I do!

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