Title: Fairy Tale
Author: Cyn Balog
Publisher: Delacorte Press
I'm kind of obsessed with stories about faeries. Ever since I was little they were all I wanted to read about. There have been a few books (mostly series) that I've had to put in my TBR that relate to these paranormal creatures, and for a while Fairy Tale was just another name on a mental list that I probably wouldn't get to for a while. Then I found a teacher that had a copy and I immediately realized it was time to make the list just a little smaller. Clearly a debut novel, there are some fundamental flaws in Fairy Tale, but it provides a quick and entertaining read with a really great writing style.
Morgan Sparks has been dating next-door neighbor and hubba hubba football player Cam Browne since they were in elementary school. They share the same birthday and do pretty much everything together. He comes over for her mother's authentic Italian meals and eats several portions (which makes her mother very happy). Little romantic gestures and nuances pass between them every day. Morgan knows Cam better than anyone else, and she is definitely in love with him. Nothing's been able to come between them.
Suddenly, Cam starts to act differently around Morgan. He's more aloof and doesn't tell her when things are messing with his head. He forgets those little romantic games and ideas. Lost in his own little world. Her fortune telling skills are always right, and she decides to look into the future and get an idea of what his problem is. Seeing herself looking at his back with a horrified expression on her face scares her. What exactly is happening to her boyfriend?
Morgan soon comes to discover that Cam is actually a fairy. An honest-to-goodness fairy. The new cousin that's come to live with him who is dorky beyond belief - Pip? He was the actual Cam, stolen into the fairy world for many years. Now they want Cam back, as he's the heir to the fairy throne. Morgan, who can see into the future, can hardly believe this is going on. She has to deal with a depressed (fairy!) boyfriend, a dorky human attempt at a replacement that she may be attracted to, and a snarky fairy guide named Dawn who looks like a blonde bombshell whenever she takes human form. Fairy Tale is a debut novel about the troubles with change in high school relationships, and how making the best decision for someone you love isn't always easy.
The narrator of Fairy Tale is one that a lot of teens will get. She makes some really hilarious comments (which I found to be a highlight of the reading experience) and has to deal with severe communication issues in a relationship that she thinks is totally okay. Her spunk and general intelligence mean she doesn't do anything supremely stupid, and she's always aware of and considering the weight of her decisions. About midway through the book a solution is found to keep Cam in the human world, but at the expense of either her or Pip. Either way she feels particularly bad about what the decision would entail and only haltingly feels like it's right. It was refreshing to read about a heroine that approached her love in a more sensible manner and at least realized that going all out, 100% wouldn't exactly solve her problems since she wasn't thinking straight.
Cam and Pip were a little different. Cam is really a character that you get disenchanted with as opposed to reaffirmed with. At the beginning he goes along with Morgan's games and is really quite adorable, but his transformation into a fairy makes him sprightly and hardly their for his girlfriend. This is supposed to happen, and basically prevents any idea of a real love triangle. If he had been around more and more passionate towards Morgan, I would have believed the relationship would last. But I didn't. Pip gets progressively more adorable, however, and you will want him to end up with Morgan. Entirely purposeful, but it took out some of the mystery in the romance of the book. Dawn is annoying and hardly present in the book, but she provided some comedic relief when she would get pissed off at Morgan.
Balog's writing is really amusing and well thought out. It's smart and references the funniest stuff. I adored it. Her pacing here, however, is very flawed. The book moves extremely fast. One scene right after the other. I adore that she writes these paranormals as single title, non-series books. Yet an extra 100 pages would have made the story so much better. She needed to establish the paranormal and make the characters fleshed out enough for me to care about the actions taking place. Those little fleshy bits would have added up over time, keeping the fast pace but making the reader feel like a much cleaner and well rounded story was going on. It's a fun story, but not one you can really appreciate in the beginning because of the sudden nature it takes on. I do have to give the plot props for working as a very good metaphor for the teen experience of change. One person can easily change in a relationship, making the whole thing just not work as it once did. Applause for an intelligent underlying premise.
Despite the lack of pacing and flesh on the story, I felt Fairy Tale to be an enjoyable read with a snarky protagonist and two very interesting male leads. Balog knows how to hit humor and make a read that connects to some subtler things about relationships while staying within paranormal boundaries. It's a quick read you can knock off in a few hours, and people with a preference for fairies and plot over characterization will find a lot to love. I'll definitely read more by this author. She is easily one that can improve with future books.
Cover: Really love the cover for this one. The back looks a little shoddy with the fortune cookie, though.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Copy: Borrowed from library