Maven’s new dream job–fairy godmother–presents more problems than she expects when she learns that Faery is on the verge of collapse, and the person who is training her isn’t giving her the facts–and may be out to kill her. Will she be able to make all the fractured fairy tales fit together into a happy ending, or will she be eaten by a troll?[Spoilers ahead]
Maven Morrigan is desperate, soon to be homeless, and while trying to pawn her last CDs, she thinks she is hallucinating from lack of food and coffee. She goes to the library to try to hunt for a job, but she can’t get computer time. Her luck is about to change when she gets a call for a job interview on her dead cell phone.
Fiona Silverthorne, Faery Godmother superior, is already sick of her job. Faery is falling apart despite her best efforts at control. She looks into her crystal ball into the mundane world and sees the cause of her trouble; wild magic, wielded by a desperate woman. If this unemplopyed school teacher is powerful enough to disrupt Faery, perhaps she could save it, if she was transported through the Veil where her powers could be controlled. And if it worked out, this woman could be installed as Fiona’s replacement, leaving Fiona free to retire.
Against the advice of her best friend, Fiona transports Maven into Faery and begins her training with a promise to introduce her to a dragon.
Strong-willed Maven begins making changes in the traditional fairy tales during her training. Cinderella runs off with a caterer, leaving the prince to an ugly sister. A dairy maid opens a peasant co-op, and a princess is promised that she will not have to marry a prince she does not love to save her kingdom. A child’s wish to have fun is granted–none of which pleases Fiona.
When Fiona sends Maven to learn the old stories from the Spinners, they tie a thread of Maven’s life to her arm and then disappear. To punish Maven’s attempts to change her instructions, Fiona puts her into a magical cottage in the deep woods. After Maven encounters a wolf, an escaped princess, and an unemployed cleaning woman, she escapes. She catches Fiona off guard and learns of Fiona’s history, including Fiona’s fears of losing control of Faery.
Tulip, whom Fiona is training as a backup for Maven, has conflicting wishes, to go to Mundane or to be a fairy godmother. Fiona sends Tulip to King Elroy’s kingdom, where a spell on his castle suppresses all wishes. The Veil there has become a fog that grabs any nearby magic. Tulip barely escapes the fog by running into the forest, where she learns that wizards are imprisoned in Elroy’s dungeon. Tulip slips into the dungeon to talk to the wizards, where she meet Jones and falls in love. She leaves Faery, which takes her out of the picture as Maven’s competition.
When Maven learns that Tulip has crossed over, she braves the Veil to search for her. On their return to Faery, Tulip tells Fiona about how the spell at the king’s castle affects magic. Belle takes Tulip to her home, and Fiona takes King Elroy to check on his castle. Maven is left alone, angry and hurt. Her familiar Serpent takes her to see the dragon Azaha to get some answers.
Back in Mundane, Jones misses Tulip and makes plans to sober up, to take up wizarding, and to get married. He crosses over and convinces the wizards to work with him to break the spell on the castle. When the spell is broken, the castle, Jones, and that section of the Veil disappear. Tulip must choose between Jones and being a fairy godmother.
To grant the princess’s wish not to marry, Azaha the dragon flies Maven back to the wedding. While the princess walks down the aisle, Maven’s first client begins screaming that Maven did not grant her wish. Maven’s other clients have also had second thoughts along this line.
Maven is angry and unleashes the chaotic magic that Fiona foresaw. Fiona casts a time-freezing spell. Maven wriggles out of Fiona’s spell and drags Fiona to Mundane. Fiona tries to cast a spell, the effort of which nearly kills her. When Maven tries to bring Finoa back to Faery, they get lost in the Veil. Maven hears the Serpent and the Spinners whispering to her, so she ties her life thread onto Fiona’s arm. A bony hand leads them back to Faery, where time is still frozen.
The gossamer thread revives Fiona once she gets back to Faery. Maven makes a true wish to be a fairy godmother, now that she has come to accept that Faery is real. Since Fiona can’t control Maven’s magic, she compromises for the time being and counters the time spell, releasing Maven’s magic. The darkness Fiona foresaw was her own death, but she did not see her revival. Fiona warns Tulip and Maven to show up in the morning early for more training, but they party the night away. This is the end of Maven’s first week on the job, and the first book in the Maven series.