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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wicked Lovely

I am have just finished Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. My dd was given the book for Christmas and has been lobbying hard for its sequel -- Inkexchange. It is an Urban Fearie book aimed at the older young adult market. There is much to like about the book, and although I became irritated at the inconsistencies of her world and sometimes it was hard to see if things were being foreshadowed for future books or were simply ideas that were not followed up on... But my dd would claim that I was nitpicking and being pedantic. It was an engaging page turning read...if sometimes the characterisation was slight and she had so much external conflict that the emotional conflict was lost. And I will admit to an ewww moment when it turns out the Summer King had previously had designs on her mother. And I found it hard to see past the hero's piercings so I wish she had not dwelt on them as much.

I will admit a long standing weakness for such tales and Marr does craft her book well. I certainly enjoyed it more than Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell. As with most faerie books, it does explore the Tam Lin myth. For example Diane Wynne Jones Fire and Hemlock delves into the same territory. Sometimes, I wish they would explore other myths/legends to do with social fairies. Or maybe I just gravitate more to these sorts of stories...

According to The Lore of the Land (Westwood and Simpson), there are two classes of fairies in English folklore -- social fairies who exist in courts and household fairies who co exist with humans. The tale Herla and how he visited the court of the pygmy king is one of the older Rip van Winkle myths. Another great myth is of the fairy bride who must not be reprimanded or else she will disappear. (see for example the tale of Edric Salvage -- a landowner listed in the Doomsday book and his fairy bride) Sometimes, in these stories, the women are selkies and the man keeps hold of the skin until it is accidentally found and returned.
Simpson and Westwood point out the whole concept of social fairies with wings tends to be a late concept. Early medieval literature tends towards being able to fly without wings. An older word is elf. As an aside, in the Norse sagas there is a part of southern Sweden known as Alfhiem. They were said to be taller than average and very beautiful. But it does beg the question were the tales about elves used to explain the kidnap of various different girls by Norse raiding parties? Britain was a well known place for Norse slavers...
It is said that the explanation of fairies was used for many of the abandoned Roman sites. Also the whole concept of fairy lucks expanded after the Reformation, in part it is said to preserve various items of the Roman Catholic faith (most of the lucks are goblets).
Anyway, it was an excuse to delve into some of my folklore tales. English tales are different from Norse and Celtic tales btw. My dd loved Wicked Lovely and although I keep telling her to write to Melissa Marr and tell her so, thus far she has declined. A pity because I feel certain all authors like to hear when people enjoy their books.

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