Published: 2 May 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Category: Young Adult/LGBT+/Romance/Contemporary
Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.
With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.
My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen is a Cinderella retelling for the modern reader. The novel expertly balances issues like sexuality, family and financial troubles, and self-discovery with more lighthearted moments like how one rogue shoe can launch a secret, whirlwind romance and a chance meeting with a drag queen can spark magic and light in a once dark reality.
Rating: 1 Star
The concept of a drag queen fairy godmother sounded like it could be fun. Retellings are usually the type of story I can get behind. My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, however, turned out to be a disappointment.
The first 20% or so I’d say was not bad. The main characters were introduced, the supporting characters were given their roles to play, etc. It started as little things, really, that kept cropping up that made me realize this book wouldn’t end up be a happy ending for me.
Chris, the Cinderella of the story, uses some potentially problematic phrases early on when he meets Duane/Coco. I thought that perhaps this was because of his lack of experience or exposure to drag queens and could have accepted that if he’d grown and learned. This doesn’t happen, though, and is reflected when, even after Duane explains that Chris isn’t his type, Chris has some kind of internal angry flare-up about how could a drag queen not like him? If Duane doesn’t how could J.J.? He was very frustrating from here on out and I think needed a good shaking.
J.J. (read Prince Charming) felt a bit one dimensional. This may have been on purpose for a lot of his presence because he’s a closeted man whose familial obligations and political aspirations have him pretending to be someone “perfect”. I never connected with him and wondered if he and Chris were actually a good match, as they felt a bit pretentious when they were chatting about their love of classic literature, name dropping Austen and Shakespeare, Anna Karenina, and so on.
Kimberly, the stepsister, was an odd character. She definitely did things I didn’t like (slipping her mother Xanax multiple times). The woman was a social climber of the highest order, but you just don’t do that. Setting that aside for a moment, I felt bad and almost sympathetic toward her because her relationship with J.J. was entirely fake. The whole time he’s secretly dating Chris, her step brother, and while she admits she’s not in love with J.J., it’s still an enormous betrayal. Her potential hurt is never addressed because the story cuts off right after J.J. and Chris’s very public outing. I hated that she got no justice; a brief apology before he kisses Chris on camera is it.
Aside from the characters I disliked and those I felt got no justice in the end, I want to touch on the language of the book.
Most of it is fairly subtle, but I noted more than a few homophobic comments that we’re brushed aside or excused. Chris’s step sister and brother admit to making jokes with derogatory language, but excuse it because they were trying to let him know they were okay with his sexuality. Chris and J.J. trade f** and f****t back and forth in one scene as if it’s not offensive.
There were also instances of slut shaming (Kimberly and Duane) and fat shaming (Kimberly: explained away as being “helpful”/Chris: insulting a PR agent because she was being blunt toward Kimberly and of course that’s the best way to get your point across).
There is also a careless comment Chris makes, after his heart is broken, about taking his stepmother’s Xanax and never waking up. It smacks of a “suicide joke”; even if this wasn’t what Chris meant, I think the author was careless with their language.
The final linguistic problem I had was an instance in which the author’s used asexual as a descriptor in a manner that felt wrong to me. The quote “It was like the asexual version of the meeting between Anna Karenina and Count Vronksy, although hopefully with happier results.” It feels as if, in context of Kiki the PR agent and Coco sharing a meaningful glance, platonic would’ve been a better choice. This may not be a problem overall or to other ace individuals, but on top of everything else in the book, it felt only right to include my uncomfortableness with this passage.
In summary, the concept of the book was a good one and could’ve been a fun, modern Cinderella story. Due to characterization, poor language, and slow pacing, sadly I don’t think it lived up to it’s potential.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.