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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Fair Folk edited by Marvin Kaye

The Fair Folk: Six Tales of the Fey, edited by Marvin Kaye. New York: Ace Books, 2005. ISBN: 978-0-441-01481-1

This is a nice, fairly thick book, with only six stories in it, so they aren't really short stories, but more like novellas, or at the very least, extensively extended short stories. Long stories, if you will. And they aren't all sweetness and light, either. Quite the contrary. Most of these fairies, elves, brownies, whatever branch of that other fey kingdom they come from, are not entirely pleasant, and not entirely friendly, especially if crossed.

I'm not terribly familiar with most of the authors, though I've at least heard of, and perhaps read something by a couple of them. Tanith Lee, Megan Lindholm, Kim Newman, Patricia A. McKillip, Craig Shaw Gardner, and co-authors Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder make up the lot.

Gardner's story, “An Embarrassment of Elves,” is the only humorous one in the lot: imagine a tap dancing, fire breathing dragon, going on stage to provide a bit of light entertainment, with as its partner, a “dark rider,” one of those anonymous harbingers of doom, with a “swirl of darkness” where its head should be, “save for two glowing embers where other beings sported eyes, and two rows of glowing, razor fangs when it opened its mouth.”

The other stories are all pretty much downers of one sort or another, as the fairy folk get involved in modern civilization kinds of settings, with decidedly mixed results, although most of the stories have more or less happy endings. I enjoyed the stories, but found most of them depressing. (Believe it or not, those are not necessarily incompatible reactions.)

Recommended for fans of fairy tales written for adults, who don't mind being dragged through the mud a bit on the way to whatever glory there is to be had.

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