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 has a ridiculously cute and optimistic protagonist, Chris as our Cinderella. Unlike the original, our Chris is not exactly forced into a life of servitude, but he is relegated to it. Now, living with his stepmother and step-siblings, who care only about staying in the limelight, he lives like a glorified butler to them. They aren’t cruel to him, but they have a twisted sense of nice, and are more likely to treat him as a favored servant than a member of the family. Which is why, with the help of a friendly drag queen named Coco Chanel, he crashes a big party where he gets to meet the love of his life, J J Kennerly. There is a whole shoe bit, too, for those invested in the fairytale retelling part of this story, but that is where the similarities end.
The major theme of the story is about coming out and acceptance. Chris is not exactly out, but his sexuality is basically an open secret. He still feels fear over people knowing he is gay, thinking they won’t approve of him. For that part, at least, his family is supportive of him, albeit in their weird way. But his secret boyfriend JJ isn’t out, and since he is a public personality, he isn’t itching to be out either. He is using Chris’ stepsister as an unknowing beard, and sneaking around with Chris. Between keeping it secret from the family and from the paparazzi, they have their hands full, but Chris does want more out of their relationship.
I liked Chris as a character – he is hopelessly naive, but also comes across as a doormat most times. His one saving grace is that he still stands up for what he wants out of the relationship – ultimately. J J, meanwhile, just kept rubbing me the wrong way. Dude was so self-centered, it was all about his public image and his political future – as if him being gay is going to affect his running for office some 20-3o years down the line (I am optimistic about a more tolerating future, okay?) and for that, he subjects Chris to what is akin to be like a mistress. Duane, aka Coco Chanel, is funny and entertaining, and I loved that he got his own arc about his gender fluidity and fashion designer dreams than being just a small character in the story. He was over the top at times, especially when it came to Chris’s step-brother, which felt like a stereotype? I don’t really know, but it felt very cliche – like, of course the drag queen is going to hit on the hot straight guy? Yeah, I wasn’t that convinced.
Overall, though, I would say read it if you like to read a queer Cinderella retelling. The romance wasn’t that great, for me, though.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Sky Pony Press, via Edelweiss and Netgalley.