This is a very sweet, little (5”x7”) collection of lore and mostly 19th century tales about some of the less pleasant wee folk.
The collection focuses first on brownies, coblyns and dwarves and their relationship to human homes. Some are kindly and will do chores for nightly offerings of milk and cake; others are mischievous and will hide and ruin things just for fun. There’s information about changelings – how to spot one, and how to get rid of it and retrieve the real baby. Subsequent chapters offer stories about pookas, deals with fairies, and about how to enter fairyland.
The chapter on pookas is the big prize in this book! The story “Taming the Pooka” by D. R. McAnally had me laughing hysterically. Many of the stories included in this book were collected by 19th century story collectors inspired by the Grimm brothers. Some of the collectors were meticulous about preserving not only the story but also replicating the local dialect in which it was told. That makes it extra fun to read some of these aloud! There’s a lot of humor in the interactions between people and the fairies, but some of it is scary.
Ventura introduces each section with bits and pieces of lore about the different types of fairies. The collected stories follow. The author makes a point of naming the story collections and including some biographical information about the story collectors. Each chapter has a half dozen or so stories, some short, some long. There are a few poems, too.
This is a delightful compilation and a perfect book for people who want to explore the less-savory denizens of the fairy world. It would make a terrific gift for a person who loves the wee folk.
~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Author: Varla Ventura
Red Wheel/Weiser, 2017
pp. 242, $16.95 pb