Career Press, July 20, 2010
Paperback, 192 pages
We all know about fairies-- they’re usually helpful, ethereal creatures in children’s stories and Walt Disney films, flitting about doing good, right?
In ancient times, the concept of fairies was rather different. They were the often-dangerous embodiment of the land, dark and unpredictable spirits that watched Humanity with a jaundiced and hostile eye. And, according to conventional folk wisdom, they were to be feared rather than trusted. Indeed, in their original form, many of our “fairy tales” read more like late-night horror stories.
Dr. Bob Curran investigates the folkloric roots of the fairy kind, tracing their origins from the sprites and maenads of Classical times to the sanitized versions of the English Victorians. Among other aspects, he examines the connections in the Christian mind between the fairy kind and demons; the links between fairies and ancient, pagan gods; and the often-strained relations between fairies and humans across the ages.
This is not a book for those who believe that fairies are friendly, kindly creatures. With the growing and anticipated interest in fairies--particularly given the forthcoming Disney film Wings, starring Miley Cyrus--Dark Fairies is a timely and valuable new title.
I must first compliment the illustrator Ian Daniels. The cover art and illustrations in this book are beautifully done. Almost makes you feel like you're not reading a nonfiction novel, but don't let it fool you. Dark Fairies is not a tremendously light read.
I thought I knew a great deal about fairies. I certainly knew they weren't all of the Tinkerbell variety. A few pages in to the book, I realized there was so much more information concerning the subject I had yet to come across. Dark Fairies not only covers the sinister side of these creatures but also goes in to depth their connection to trolls, elves and even angels. The transitions between each story are smooth. The material is not too hard to understand. Of course, I always manage to find some kind of flaw.
As previously stated, the illustrations in this book are fabulous. However, I wish there was some photos mixed in as well. Curran provided background information concerning a series of photos of alleged fairies but didn't include any of the actual photos. So, if anyone wasn't familiar with the case, they would either miss out or have to look it up. In my case, the next book I'm reading for review covered the same story and included a couple of the photographs.
Overall, I would recommend this book for anyone who loves the subject of fairies.