Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland

My husband always chides me for not reading more non-fiction. He loves reading books about people and places and events in history. I prefer to use my reading time to escape into other worlds and faraway times and places.

I found a way that I can "have my cake and eat it too." As a record of folklore, Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland is classified as non-fiction, but in its compulsive readibility it reads like fiction. Irish storyteller and folklorist Eddie Lenihan has traveled through parts of Ireland, collecting stories of the Good People from old-timers before these stories disappear completely in the modernization of Ireland.

The stories themselves are a fascinating glimpse into faerie folklore and it's interesting to see the roots of many modern fantasy works. They range from the consequences of cutting down a faerie bush or building a house on a fairy road, to humans "asked" to referee fairy sporting matches. But the stories are also a portrait of a way of life that is disappearing. Lenihan and co-editor Carolyn Eve Green did a good job at capturing the authentic voices of the storytellers.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in faerie folklore.

The Chronicles of Faerie: The Hunter's Moon

One of my current fascinations is with the fairie folk. There's something appealing about the legends of the "other folk," charismatic, mercurial, and potentially dangerous. So like us in some ways, and yet so different in others. Ever since I "discovered" the fairies in reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I've been reading books of fiction and folklore about fairies. So it was with some excitement that I started reading The Hunter's Moon, the first book in O.R. Melling's The Chronicles of Faerie. I wasn't disappointed.

The Hunter's Moon is a beautiful, lyrical tale of friendship, love, and sacrifice that's sure to please any fantasy fan. The melding of ancient and modern Ireland sets a poignant backdrop for an exciting story that builds to a startling conclusion. Melling's love of Ireland and her knowledge of folklore are skillfully woven into a story that brings the land of Ireland and its people to life. It made me long to visit Ireland, both the modern and the old, and to dance with the fairies whatever the risk.

The book was originally published in Canada in 1993, but Melling has updated it with several modern pop culture references. While this would seem to be a risk, ensuring that the books will become outdated quickly, the references serve to show the contrast between the modern and the ancient. I'm looking forward to reading book 2, The Summer King, scheduled in the U.S. to be released in May of this year.

Oh, and Melling is a blogger! Read O.R. Melling's blog here

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Dark and Atmospheric Fantasy

If you like dark and atmospheric fantasy, you may enjoy The Book of Dead Days and its sequel, The Dark Flight Down, by Marcus Sedgwick. The books tell the story of a young orphan who knows nothing of his past and whose only name is Boy.

In The Book of Dead Days, Boy lives with the magician Valerian as a servant/assistant. Valerian has made a Faustian bargain, and if Boy and a girl named Willow can't help him find a certain book of power before New Years Eve, Valerian will be dead. In The Dark Flight Down, Boy is abducted and taken to the palace of the Emperor Frederick, where he is plunged into a world of intrigue, mystery, and danger.

Sedgwick's strength is his richly detailed word-paintings, which bring the setting and the characters to life. The books are dark, mysterious, and exciting. Both books are good, but I especially enjoyed the second one. The story was more interesting, and the character of Boy more fully developed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lemony Snicket Interview

Speaking of The Series of Unfortunate Events, I just listened to a great interview with Daniel Handler, the, er, official representative of Lemony Snicket. The interview is free to download from Audible.com. It's a little old — apparently it took place last year before the release of the movie — but it's still interesting, and Handler displays his characteristic wit. (When the interviewer told him her nephew was devouring the books, he replied that the boy should be reading them, not eating them.)

Download the Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler interview here

I love Audible.com. Once a week, I make a 2-hour round trip drive, and the audio books I download from Audible.com keep me sane. Also, my son and I love to listen to audio books together when we are driving. I have a subscription which allows me to download two audio books per month and gives me a discount on any additional ones. Since I only listen to unabridged audio books, (I can't stand abridged books in any form!) which tend to be expensive if purchased separately, downloading one free book each month usually pays for the subscription. The second book is a bonus.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The next "ology" will be...

Avast, lubbers! Candlewick Press has announced the next book in the wonderful "ologies" series. The newest sequel to Egyptology, Dragonology, and Wizardology will be:


Amazon.com lists the release date as July 11, and it's probably no coincidence that it will be only a few days after the release of the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest movie. Pirate fever will be in full swing this summer!

Personally, I was hoping for Faerieology, but I guess it's not to be this time. I'll just have to hope for that one in 2007.

Preorder Pirateology from Amazon.com

April 19, 2007, edited to add: For those of you who just came here from Google, this is an old post. The new "Ology" for 2007 will be Mythology. Click here for more information on Mythology.

Series of Unfortunate Events: Book 13 Release Date?

Yesterday, I received this newsletter from Harper Collins:

Less than two weeks after 2006 arrived amidst great excitement and optimism, something terrible happened at 12:01 a.m. this morning: Friday the 13th arrived.

Under normal circumstances, today’s date would be unfortunate. This year, it is even more ominous, a word which here means “extremely worrisome.” That is because this terribly unlucky day occurs TWICE in 2006.

Associates at LemonySnicket.com predict that the second time, Friday, October 13, will bring The End. Of what, however--the Baudelaire orphans? Lemony Snicket himself? Thursday, October 12th?--remains unclear.

There is much to fear in the coming months--alarming puzzles, distressing notations, a series of communications from someone named Beatrice. All of us at AuthorTracker will continue to try to locate the elusive Mr. Snicket, gather information, understand the truth, and share our findings with you.

Still, we are sorry to ruin your year after only 12 days. Perhaps 2007 will be cheerier.

With all due respect,
HarperCollins Publishers

HarperCollins doesn't say exactly what will happen on October 13, but I think it's no coincidence that it will be almost exactly a year since the release of The Penultimate Peril. Could it be the release date of Book the Thirteenth of The Series of Unfortunate Events?

I'm baa-aack

No, I didn't fall into another dimension ot travel back in time. The explanation for my absence from this blog is much more mundane. Between the holidays and some health problems, I just haven't had time to write. But, it's a new year and things are getting back to normal, so I hope to be able to get back to the routine of writing. So, as of right now, I'm baa-aack!