I don’t know if it is obvious, but I have a slight obsession with fairy tales and folklore. I want to learn more about Norse mythology, but I particularly want to learn more about the Irish and Scottish legends; and I want to know about the faerie.
Titania, Oberon, Puck, brownies, goblins, the tithe, the Seelie and Unseelie, the sidhe… That’s what I really want to know about. And I’m not sure that it is something that can be learned through the conventional textbook route, I think you have to unravel these tales all on your own.
So, I seek out books: Tithe by Holly Black, the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K Hamilton, delving into the mythology of The Labyrinth. Recently, I’ve reread Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan.
Brennan wrote two other books, Witch and Warrior, that I read first and then found her first book about the Onyx Court, ruled by the Faerie Queen Invidiana. I like the glimpse into Faerie in these books: how the Queen keeps mortal pets, Eurydice, Orpheus, Achilles, and Tiresias. And you see the politics that take place, the measures that are taken to protect from mortals, such as eating mortal bread and avoiding the name of God.
What I also like about Midnight is that Invidiana is Queen Elizabeth I’s shadow and the events that happen in the mortal world above have an effect on the faerie world below and the faerie also work to manipulate the events of the mortal world. I think that the two realms are so intertwined that even though the Fae do want to escape, they can’t. There is something about mortals and their affairs that keep the Fae closer to this realm than they want to be.
It’s similar to another book I read recently, Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson, which takes place in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Katrina had consequences that not everyone can see. The border between the mortal realm and the Beyond have torn and ghosts, vampires, elves and even a few gods can cross over. New Orleans is a mess and not just because of the devastation left by the hurricane, but because this otherworldly forces are invading and a majority of the population doesn’t know and can’t do anything.
And both books highlight that it is more about politics and playing mind games than anything else. Yes, the faerie have immortality; some have unnatural beauty, some don’t; brownies are loyal to a family and take care of their farm while other fae act in their own interests, but both books work around the fact that every action, every word spoken is measured and counted to find the value of a political opponent.
However, I am not actively seeking out more of Brennan’s Onyx Court books. I love her characters and how they interact with each other and I learn more from them then I have from other sources, but there is a heavy historical component to her books as well, and I don’t want to navigate that right now. Her books deal with Elizabeth I’s reign, the Great Fire of London and other events that I don’t recall right now. Eventually, I will return to the Onyx Court, but right now, I’m waiting for the sequel to Royal Street to come out. It still deals with actual events, but there is something about Johnson’s New Orleans that I want to know what happens next. Mainly with her main character DJ, who is a human wizard.
We’ll see. I’m also trying to get through Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and the sequel, The Magician King. And I want to return to the Left Behind novels after I’ve done a study on the Book of Revelations. However, with a new baby due in October, this might all go on hold for a while.
But I’ll keep searching for the magic.