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Diary of a Fairy Godmother    by Esme Raji Codell Amazon.com order for
Diary of a Fairy Godmother
by Esme Raji Codell
Order:  USA  Can
Listening Library, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Esme Raji Codell delivers a light-hearted tale about Hunky Dory, a young witch believed to have the potential to become 'the wickedest witch wherever the four winds blow.' The truth is, she's not too sure she's really into being completely and utterly devious. In fact, the overwhelming tingling sensation she feels when she performs acts of good is leading her down a dangerous path to become what every mother witch dreads, a fairy godmother. But there's no stopping her fall and before she knows it, Dory has dropped out of witching school and taken up residence at the bottom of a well, granting wishes to whoever cares to stop by and drop a gold coin. She can't achieve full-blown fairy godmother status (referred to witches as 'FG' since the words are too dreadful to say), until she does some significant work for royalty.

On top of pressure from her mother and aunt, Dory's peers show varying support. Lemon Droppings, an FG, looks to become a witch since Dory is making her way to become an FG. Some of her friends like Velvet Underground, Twisted Ankle, and Acid Reflux support her, while her competitive nemesis in witch school, Frantic Search, continually taunts her in an obnoxious Brooklyn accent. Of course, what is a tale about fairy godmothers and witches without cameos of favorite fairy tale characters? Here, they include Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Goldilocks, and Rumplestiltskin, who has a crush on Dory. The story plays out through Dory's journal entries, each marked by a different phase of the changing moon, such as Silver Nickel Moon Waxing Crescent. Throughout the story, Dory depends on quotes from 'Be the One with the Wand,' the bible for witches and fairy godmothers alike. At the end of the audiobook, all the lessons from the book are repeated, as well as a recipe for booger chocolate chip cookies.

Much of the story comes across as cute but not necessarily funny, while the plot seems too scattered for kids. Rachel Ellis narrates the story well, putting across a believably youthful (hundred-years-old) witch who is just learning the ways of wand and broom. The different voices - from the gruff Rumplestiltskin to the ditzy Goldilocks or the slightly-dopey Lemon Droppings - come naturally in the story and fit the characters appropriately. Where Ellis falters is in the rhyming scheme. Codell has several rhyming stanzas in her story, often sung out by one character or another. Ellis reads these in a forced voice, aspiring to rhythm but ultimately falling short. Diary of a Fairy Godmother feels like a youthful blend of J. K. Rowling and Gregory Maguire, dealing with both a magic-user's plight in choosing the right path and the assumptions we make about the magically-inclined. Indeed, Codell reminds us all that witches and fairy godmothers are just different sides of the same coin.

Note: This review refers to an unabridged (3 hours, 26 mins) audiobook read by Rachael Ellis, available from Listening Library in 3 CDs, and also from Audible.com.

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