Amid all my Darkover books, I’ve taken a few side tangents into other worlds and writers’ works. While tidying out one of my many bookcases, I noticed my well-loved copies of The Godmother and The Godmother’s Apprentice by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Once spotted, they just begged to be read yet again.
The Godmother deals with the trials and tribulations of a Seattle social worker named Rose Samson who wishes there were better ways to help some of her clients. Into the breach appears Godmother Felicity Fortune. This wonderful character appears to be based on fellow fantasy writer Anne McCaffrey to whom the book is dedicated. The magic powers that Godmothers have access to in our modern era poses new challenges and strict guidelines as to how wishes are granted. Scarborough does a masterful, humorous job of weaving in favourite archetypes in a brand new way.
This is not to say that the book is all sweetness and light. The Godmother deals with the horrific topic of sexual abuse, child pornography and pedophiles in a way that wrenches your heart. As the book races to its conclusion, the various fairy tales intertwine, weaving a rich conclusion that allows the story to still go on.
The Godmother’s Apprentice chronicles the adventures of a secondary character, Snohomish “Sno” Quantrill, from the first novel who has been offered the chance to become Felicity’s apprentice. The book features a clever journal narrative by the main character, interspersed with short fairy tales and chapters in the standard third person narrative. While this may sound confusing, in the hands of a talented writer like Scarborough, it only serves to make the pace of the novel more interesting.
Both of these novels offer readers cleverly told stories, brilliant humour and a depth of storytelling that does not attempt to gloss over the darkness in the world anymore than the original Grimm Fairy Tales. The results are infinitely satisfying and one of the reasons that these books remain favourites in my collection.
The Godmother: Paperback format, 341 pages, published in 1994 by Ace Fantasy.
The Godmother’s Apprentice: Paperback format, 294 pages, published in 1995 by Ace Fantasy.