What sets Fairy Tale Fail apart from the other Filipino romances that I've read is that it's highly believable. Mina Esguerra's characters are real -- they're your best friends, your office crush. Her main character in particular, for all her weaknesses and insecurities, has a familiar story. Best of all, I liked how the romance between the main characters was developed, a romance that grew out of genuine friendship (and between two people who were their own persons).
Pinoy readers looking for a fun chick fic shouldn't pass this up. Same goes to foreign readers who aren't afraid to explore a new contemporary setting for their romances. I'll definitely be looking forward to more of Mina Esguerra's work.
Compared to the author's other books, Love Your Frenemies is less about romance and is more about friendship and self-discovery. Kimmy, who is first seen (and painted in a not-so-pretty light) in Ms Esguerra's first book My Imaginary Ex, takes centerstage in Frenemies. She is back in town for her best friend's wedding, and it's the first time she's facing the aftermath of her own cancelled ceremony. Missing here is the light-hearted fluff that often accompany love stories, but in its place is a more introspective piece.
You don't need to read My Imaginary Ex to enjoy this one, especially since both books are driven by two very different energies. It must have been very challenging to write someone like Kimmy. Ms Esguerra could have taken the easy path and written Kimmy as someone whose behavior had been grossly exaggerated and heavily misunderstood but she wisely makes no excuses for Kimmy's behavior in the past. Kimmy is a flawed character -- whether she is lovable is up to the reader -- but her courage is admirable. Her friendship with bride-to-be Chesca was sharply and realistically written. Frenemies puts premium on friendship and forgiveness and, if you like your love stories on the somewhat subdued side, is worth the read.
Mr McNally knows his way around different fantasy tropes, combining them well enough to create an adventure campaign that is light in tone and quick in pace. The novel manages to balance humorous banter with sobering tension. The characters may be straight out of an RPG but they remain engaging, especially since most of them are given moments of inner conflict. Despite some contrived instances and excessive infodumping, this remains a solid effort and a very promising start to the series.