Read for the Once Upon a Time III Reading Challenge.
This book seemed particularly apt for the challenge, as it’s part of a series that combines fairy tales with the elemental magic of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This particular book is a take off on “Puss in Boots”, but brings that story into late 19th century England.
Ninette Dupond is a dancer with the Paris Ballet. One fateful evening, she fills in for the company’s prima ballerina, and unfortunately, does such a good job that the prima takes offense, and Ninette is summarily fired. Alone and unemployed, she’s not sure where her next meal will come from, or if she’s be able to keep her flat. On this worst night of her life, she comes home to find a cat in her flat - a cat who suddenly speaks to her.
The cat offers her an opportunity. If she comes with him to England, and impersonates a Russian ballerina named Nina Tchereslavksy, he’ll make sure she finds work, and won’t have to starve to death. What neither Ninette or the cat know is that the real Nina has been absorbed by a malevolent Earth elemental, and when that Elemental catches wind of Ninette’s impersonation, she comes to England to take care of her rival.
The book is a good deal of fun. I’m not a dancer, but I’ve done enough theatre and musical performance that I enjoyed the back stage flavor if Ninette’s new home in Blackpool. As usual in the series, Lackey works in the concept of Elemental magic in a convincing way that works with the story. In this case, Ninette’s new employers are Elemental mages that have abilities well suited to life onstage, including a familiar trapped in the body of an African Grey who may or may not be a famous composer. It’s a great, fun read, perfect for a rainy weekend.