The dark side of faery . . .
It’s well known that the legend of faery is a dark and dangerous one. Much of it was told as a cautionary lesson to children. Even in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell could be a vicious little thing. Was it Disney and television that made the world of the faerie become less profound as time moved on? More sparkles and fairy wings?
Nice for the tinies, but two dimensional for anyone else. Which is why it is so refreshing to see that modern authors tell the faery legend as it was always portrayed: shadowy, questionable, utterly tantalising.
Which is also why I love the illustrative work of Kinuko Craft. It shows us the unbelievable beauty that is faery and the dark that lies beneath. www.kycraft.com
I’ve always read fantasy. It’s a genre I have enjoyed as it stretches my imagination to untold limits. Those who know this blog know that legend and folk-tale based fantasy are my favourites. That I also choose to be inspired by it when writing my own work.
Looking back on two of my favourite contemporary fantasy authors, I believe the intimation of the dark side of Faery is very strong in their writing. Cecilia Dart Thornton http://www.dartthornton.com is an award winning author with The Bitterbynde Saga and The Crowthistle Chronicles to her credit. In each of the sagas, no matter how glittering or perfect the surroundings may be, there is always a dark shadow, as if at any time the mirror might crack and we will see the Other world for what it truly is. Cecilia’s male protagonists have such a terrifying edge to them that they make the Twilight heroes look like fairies.
Juliet Marillier http://www.julietmarillier.com has a similar skill. In my favourite book: Wildwood Dancing, the world to which the female protagonists escape to dance their nights away is filled with shades the colours of nightmares. In the Sevenwaters series, what could be more terrible than a curse set upon brothers that they should become swans or that to break that charm, their sister must weave tunics for them from plants that strip her hands to bloody shreds? Two of Juliet’s books, Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret, have cover designs by Kinuko Craft, and one dabbles one’s toe on the edge of a world that one can barely understand as one looks into the detail.
One of my favourite reference books, The Annotated Classic Fairytales, edited by Maria Tatar, has a detailed preface on the world of faery. Maria reiterates the words of Kenneth Clark, famed art historian who says: ‘(Fairytales) contain much that is painful and terrifying. Arousing dread as well as wonder . . . ‘
Would you be brave enough to go to Faery, given the expectation that when you came back, you would be a shadow of your former self, or worse that you may not come back at all?
If you are, then for a whole week of dalliance with Faery, go to vvb32. She is holding an inspiring blog event where anything that is magick may happen. And also visit Bo Press to find the outrageous steampunk millinery for faeries designed by former costumier and book artist Pat Sweet. It’s a world we could forget, but the child inside us begs not to.
It is true that there is a dark side to the whole concept of faeries, they can be pretty manipulating 🙂
I enjoy reading and learning about imaginary creatures, faeries included. Thank you for the book suggestions and the links Prue!
Pleasure, Lua. Am enjoying Serial Central by the way.
Thanks for the recommendations–I haven’t read fantasy in a long time, and could use the escape! I love fairy and folk tales, and have always been fascinated by the early concept of fairies as mischeif-makers, and the warning tales to children of being stolen. Have you read Yeats’ poem The Stolen Child, or, even more haunting, heard Loreena McKennit’s version set to music?
Rowenna, yes to The Stolen Child as I adore Yeats. But no to Loreena McKennit’s version. Shall chase it up.
I’ve been looking for good fantasy to read for a while. And really, there’s too much Man-Fantasy out there. And I’m done with it for the moment.
(Man fantasy = fantasy written by men. It tends to involve never-ending sagas and some weird obsession with sex and virginity).
Also reminded by Yeats, I really like certain performances of, Der Erlkönig!
I love the strings here.
The two authors mentioned are brilliant fantasy writers with strong, plausible female protagonists. Definitely epic in the case of CDT. But superb language. Marillier has a tenderness for things Celtic . . . The Sevenwaters Saga is stunning.