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Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF January 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback

Scary Fairies… While Barrie, Nesbit and others were trying to anodize* and castrate fairies c. 1900 out in the wilds of Britain, Man and Ireland there will still those who were terrified of the elfen beggars. This terror finds a little known reflex in the literature of the time. Various authors including Buchan, Machen, Le Fanu and Blackwood decided to pay tribute to fairy fear. This Christmas Beachcombing has collected twenty period scary fairy stories that he hopes to release as a Beachcombing volume later in the year. For now though he has taken five of the twenty that represent a useful spread through the late Victorian/Edwardian world  1872-1919 and put them together in this pdf for his readers as an Epiphany gift, after the success of last year’s War in Dollyland. These works range from neo-traditional tales (‘Laura Silver Bell’) to Machen’s ‘The White People’, perhaps the greatest horror story ever written. Any other tales to add to this pile? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com There is some latitude for the definition of ‘fairies’ (elves, dwarfs, mermaids – why not?, Pan??) but the narrative must produce fear on some levels. For Beachcombing’s purposes it would be better if the tale is out of copyright but anything goes for the purposes of producing a good long list of fairy terror for the general reader. Beach should also note that the image that heads the pdf-book is authentic in that an early modern Welsh witness sketched it while explaining what the Pwca looked like! Should also note that the pdf is best printed – unless your eyesight is really bad – two to a side: so on a double-sided printer it should be easy to print all five stories with forty sheets of A4.

Let the revels begin…

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6 Jan 2011: A few emails worth putting up immediately including some from consultations with readers in the last days. First the bad/good news and thanks to Southern Man for this. Seems that Scary Fairies has already been used as a title: several times… One of these though is a free Juno ebook which includes four neo-traditional tales: ‘The Child that Went with the Fairies by Le Fanu’ (will be in Beachcombing’s Scary Fairies), ‘The Adventure of Cherry of Zenor’ (entertaining but hardly frightening), ‘Ethna the Bride’ by Lady Wilde and ‘Tam Lin’ as told by John Joseph Shaun K has the following suggestions: ‘Not on your list is a work by George MacDonald, ‘Phantasies’ (1858). I haven’t read it myself, but I do note it has one of the earlier references to a place called Fairyland, an Other World. The summary I have read paints it more as a fantasy than a weird tale. Not sure it is right for this work, but there you go. As for other ideas, might I suggest a reference to Georges Méliès A Trip To The Moon. Not a fairy story per se, but a marker in time, as the mystery of the paranormal is first transitioned to the stark (if still amazing) technicality of science fiction. The story certainly bears comparison to Other World visitations, though now in distance rather than dimensions. The depiction of the Moon dwellers combined with the novelty and realism of the moving picture would certainly have sent a few viewers up the aisles in fright. i have in my collection a small tome called Witchcraft and Folklore of Dartmoor, by Ruth St. Leger-Gordon (1972, Bell Publishing Co.) It has a chapter or two about fairy (pixie) lore in the area, with accounts that mostly fall into the overwhelmed-and-freaked-out category. NO idea where you might get this book today, but if you have any friends in Dartmoor I would recommend making inquiries. Phil P while not coming up with many titles as such points in the direction of the ‘usual suspects’. Beachcombing will be dredging through their collections and will report back. ‘Here is a list of the authors [that might be useful]. This would be a good source for possible period stories. (From their Wikipedia page) Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, and Derleth himself; classic genre fiction by authors such as William Hope Hodgson, Algernon Blackwood, H. Russell Wakefield, Seabury Quinn, and J. Sheridan Le Fanu; I would also check the horror of Ambrose Bierce. Finally, (for now) A very scary modern fairy story that I commend to you: Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist. It is a novel and still in print in paperback. It is good enough that I gave bought copies for several friends.’ Invisible meanwhile points out that there is a Saki Story, Music on the Hill. Thanks to Invisible, Shaun, Phil and Southern Man!

*JT reminds Beach of his limits: ‘I know that you celebrate the bizarre, but anodising is a form of electrolysis that increases the thickness of a natural oxide layer on certain metals. I would love it to be true – the thought of confronting fairies with bell, book, and electrolysis is delicious – but I very much fear that it is some sort of error.’ Beach is past bluffing, he is simply an idiot. Thanks JT!