Monday, April 14, 2014

Perseverance of Faeries

First many exciting books...

1. Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Before I say something about this book there are two things you should know about me:
1. I am not a Boston native. 2. I don't have a smartphone so I get around by walking around with Googlemaps directions written on post-it notes. If I get lost I can't easily find my way out. This makes me extra neurotic about knowing where I am.
I was so caught up reading this book I got on the wrong train, going the wrong direction.While not the most egregious error, it's pretty notable for me. This book is AMAZING.

2. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
The conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Do I need to say anything else?

3. Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
This book is adorable. It doesn't hurt that Beekle looks like an Adipose. But my favorite is the Day-of-the-Dead-looking Octopus.

There have been a number of trends in the YA book world. Some of them are noticeably big. Some of them are thought to be "the next big thing" but never quite make it. Others are a constant stream through the YA world that never really seem to make a huge splash, even if they're always there.

One of these undercurrents that I've always loved are the faerie books. Faeries have made appearances in popular series and even have quite a few of their own.

They've always seemed like such an obvious choice of topic to write about. There's so much myth and legend readily available to play around with that I've always felt like there should be more books that utilize it. I think it's easy for people to dismiss the idea of faeries as little balls of light with wings and flower skirts, or even the little fiery pixies like Tinkerbell. But the faeries of myth of dark, bitter, blood-splattered things .

In many traditional stories these creatures are cold and cruel. They can't lie so they play games with people, revealing truths in ways that hurt others. They're tricksters. They steal children and replace them with faerie children.

This sort of dark, cynical cruelty is right up the alley of the sort of stories that are popular now.

That careful, tense, knife-edged diplomacy that's become so big in response to Game of Thrones' popularity can be easily transferred to the Seelie and Unseelie (roughly, light and dark) or season based faerie courts. The relationships between these courts are always strained, at best.

The eternally attempted retellings are often seen in alterations or flat revamps of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. And as big as mythology and folklore is now there are plenty of other books that just explore the Celtic ideas of the fae. The trickster ways and the old lore of how they are warded against, or summoned, or controlled.

There's so much material to work with and so many amazing things that people can do with it and I've read some really awesome and original work.

Some of my favorites are:
Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tales (Tithe, Valiant, Ironside) Heavily involved in the politics of the Seelie and Unseelie courts and how lore impacts faerie/human relationships

Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series. (Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows, Darkest Mercy) Season bases courts and politics.

Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series (Iron King, Iron Daughter, Iron Queen, Iron Knight) Season based courts with a definite twist and some Shakespeare thrown in for good measure (I mean, Puck is in it! You can never go wrong with Puck).

O.R. Melling's Chronicles of Faerie (Hunter's Moon, Summer King, Light-bearer's Daughter, Book of Dreams). Heavily based on different Celtic myths and lores.

Maggie Stiefvater's Books of Faerie (Lament and Ballad) Lesser known Celtic myths with a music twist.

Leslie Livingston's Wondrous Strange series (Wondrous Strange, Darklight, Tempestuous) Some season courts, mostly Shakespeare.

All of these books are such different tones and utilize such different parts of the faerie lore. At the same time they've all a darkness to them that I think appeals to readers right now.

I'd love to see Faerie books really get their chance to rise and show people just how amazing they are.


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