Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Faery Tales - Debbie Bennett

Now I’m not a huge fan of the current trend in paranormal fantasy/romance/whatever. Yes, I admit I read Twilight (and, yes, I enjoyed it), but I have no desire to delve into the ocean of teenage mortal-meets-demon angst. I'm the mother of a teenager and get enough of it at home, thanks...

But I do love faeries. The whole mythos is infinitely more complex than that of vampires, demons and werewolves and seems securely rooted in Celtic legend. And every book I read stays more-or-less true to the basic premise, while maybe adding a new twist. And as those of you who know me well will also know - I've always been obsessed by the idea of other worlds, parallel universes, realities that sit alongside our own and touch on occasion.

But why are all my favourite tales of Faerie set in America? Celtic mythology has Irish and Welsh roots, surely? Is the American take on it a result of the mass Irish immigration into America over the years? Maybe they took their tales of home with them.

Tom Deitz has a whole series of books based in Georgia. Sadly they're not available on kindle and I don't think were ever printed in the UK (I haunted Forbidden Planet a lot when I lived in London and a lot of my paperbacks are US imprints with the traditional yellow edges). Deitz seamlessly blends Celtic myth with Native American legend as worlds collide and barriers break down. This is faery adventure where the main characters are boys and there's only a limited love-interest. Deitz also plays with another favourite theme of mine - where the bad guys are often nicer than the good guys.

Mercedes Lackey has another take. She's a prolific fantasy author and while all of her books feature magic in one guise or another, most are high fantasy. But there are a few that are based on the concept of elves/faeries living in US cities, driving fast cars and causing mayhem.

Melissa Marr. I got a review copy of Wicked Lovely many years ago and fell in love with the cover before I ever opened the book. We've got less adventure here and more romance-with-a-deadly-edge, but what the Hell. I'm hooked, despite being possibly three times the age of the target audience. Like children's television, it's quite often better-crafted than adult offerings, I find.

More romance stuff. I found a complete set of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series in our local The Works shop the other day (home of the remaindered 3-for-a-fiver books). I'd had my eye on these for a long time but could never find the first one until the shop did a re-organisation! This series is similar to Melissa Marr: Human teenage girl meets drop-dead sexy faery boy, with added complications thrown in along the way. I love it - I always find romance far more interesting when one of the pair isn't entirely human. In fact I have my own faery love story in this collection on kindle...

And let's not forget Raymond Feist, with the classic Faery Tale. Here the faeries are the bad guys and we're digging into real Celtic myth with Wayland the blacksmith, Puck and all the rituals of Faery. And there's Susan Cooper's older but not dated Arthurian Dark is Rising sequence, which never actually mentions faery but alludes to it in many ways with references to Celtic gods. And - a British offering that I've only just remembered is Mark Chadbourn's Age of Misrule trilogy - a faery tale of epic proportions.

So if you like a dose of magic, of dark and dangerous faeries, have a dip into any of the above. Especially if - like me - you enjoy seeing how authors twist the "rules" of the genre. We all know that if you enter the faery world, you shouldn't eat or drink, that a name has power and that time passes differently over there. 

And don't we all sometimes want a little bit of that magic in our lives?


7 comments:

Karen Myers said...

I hope you don't mind my mentioning my own The Hounds of Annwn, a series about a Virginia foxhunter who crosses into a fae otherworld and ends up leading the Wild Hunt.

Bloody Welsh gave me fits... :)

Mari Biella said...

I love fairytales, not least because I think you can often detect a layer of long-lost folk beliefs in them. And you're never, never too old for them! I'll have to look out for some of the titles you suggest, Debbie.

madwippitt said...

oooo yes, absolutely! Can I add two other recommendations - Graham Joyce's Some Kind of Fairy Tale and Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer. Oh and does Diana Wynne Jones' fabulous take on that particular classic count too? - Fire and Hemlock ... :-)

madwippitt said...

oooo yes, absolutely! Can I add two other recommendations - Graham Joyce's Some Kind of Fairy Tale and Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer. Oh and does Diana Wynne Jones' fabulous take on that particular classic count too? - Fire and Hemlock ... :-)

madwippitt said...

oooo yes, absolutely! Can I add two other recommendations - Graham Joyce's Some Kind of Fairy Tale and Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer. Oh and does Diana Wynne Jones' fabulous take on that particular classic count too? - Fire and Hemlock ... :-)

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I love these kind of 'faery' tales too. Have you come across my friend Gillian Philip's brilliant Rebel Angels series? Firebrand, Bloodstone, Wolfsbane and Icefall. Haven't read the last two yet, but the series is magical, thrilling, sexy and very very Celtic!

Lydia Bennet said...

I used to love fairies and convinced myself I believed in them for years as a child! I thought of them rather like nature spirits, like nymphs. Don't Susan Price's Sterkarm novels suggest another explanation for fairies, -so I'll put in a word for those splendid books! after all in many myths or poems or ballads (Tam Lin etc) they are human size, mysterious, and amoral, like the ones in Midsummer Night's Dream which seem to change size to interact with humans in their rather cruelly playful way.