Words: 3,706 for Chapter 21.
Basic details: Delia's trying to get into the castle to give the last necessary spell to the unborn princess, but she finds out the palace has upped their security.
The good: There's . . . sort of some action. Bad Fairy is not an "action" series; there's very little actual physical confrontation. It's an introspective and quiet series. So it's kind of nice when once in a while you have something that breaks up the tone a little with a character like Delia shaking out the rusty parts of her brain and trying to figure out how to outsmart something she didn't expect to be stronger than her. I also like when it gets super meta and starts actually talking about the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. (Because Delia does know what it is, and that her life story ended up in it.)
The bad: Very little actual interaction with others makes for potentially stagnant narration. I threw in a dialogue scene toward the end just to make it a little less interminable. There's also some awkward "Delia explaining herself" stuff at the beginning, justifying and contextualizing the stuff she did in the last chapter, but I haven't decided yet if it's bad or if it kinda works for her.
An observation by Delia (for which the context is complicated):
There is not a mother alive who has not done something ludicrous for the sake of her child.
Delia gets all serious and determined after her first two attempts to enter the palace failed pretty spectacularly:
Lying on my stomach under some trees, I held my head in my hands and found tears on my cheeks. Strange, since there was no matching tightness in my throat. My eyes were crying on their own.
No more poorly planned ridiculousness for me. I was the most accomplished, strongest, most versatile magick user in the kingdom as far as I knew, and I was not about to continue collecting injuries at the hands of fairies with half my power.
Delia isn't so perfect after all:
I felt the hope draining out of my eyes as my lids slipped closed. I was so tired. Why couldn’t I figure out how to get in? This was such a frustrating spell—very little finesse, rough corners, hard conditionals, and built like a brick wall instead of the usual coat of paint. But there was power in its thickness; it may not have been pretty, but it was doing its job. Once a spell like this was set, it was a physical law that worked as predictably and inescapably as gravity.
Delia's sad reflections on not being able to get into the castle and commune with the princess:
Not only had I failed to assure the princess’s survival the way she needed me to, but I hadn’t been able to touch her at all. The distance between us felt magnified now that I’d been denied the revitalizing boost I’d been yearning for. My bond with her was as strong as ever, but I couldn’t feel her thoughts or her whispers or her songs or her stirrings. Just a vague sense of her living soul, far far away, connected to me by a thread that conveyed a single note when I wanted a symphony.
Delia's tutor Imelda proves that she's actually kind of an awesome friend:
Back in my castle with Imelda, my tutor didn’t even try to teach me when she saw the blankness in my eyes. She threw the books aside and offered me an embrace instead.
“I can tell you need one of these,” she said, and though she was a bit on the bony side just like me, her arms were comfortingly soft as she pulled me into her chest.
I wished I could cry on her, but I didn’t have the emotions to do it. My feelings were broken. I managed a dramatic sigh, though, and thanked her.
“Let’s have me make our tea this time,” she said. “Your heart’s not in this day, and I’d like to see if I can change that.”