FEATURE: Ben Appleby-Dean’s Five Haunting Literary Adventures To Fairyland | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle-based author Ben Appleby-Dean has just released his second ebook, The Stickman’s Legacy, through local publishers Wild Wolf. It’s a dark fairytale about a girl investigating the death of her missing father – and to celebrate the release he’s listed his own favourite literary versions of Fairyland.

Phantastes by George MacDonald
In the first adult fantasy novel ever written, MacDonald crafts an enchanted forest filled with enigmatic and changeable inhabitants – waking statues, enchanted reflections and malevolent tree spirits – with all the lyricism and eerie familiarity of a half-forgotten dream. His elegiac Fairyland can be read as poetry and allegory, romance and rebirth, loss-of-innocence and coming-of-age.

Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
Mirrlees’s Faerie realm is a land on the borders, denied and near-forgotten by the book’s stuffy, prosaic characters out of fear of the corruptive powers it possesses – particularly the forbidden fairy fruit smuggled into the city by unknown means. Faerie here is an enigmatic threat, both an echo of the buried past and a catalyst for social change, fuelling the mystery at the heart of this book and couched in some of the most enchanting prose in the English language.

Little, Big by John Crowley
Crowley conjuries Faerie as the innermost of a series of layered worlds, onion-skin realities  growing ever-larger in scale towards the centre, and centred on a portal hidden within the composite house of Edgewood. Crowley’s Fairies are backwards creatures – seeing the future and forgetting the past – and his writing is heady and rich and insightful, drawing the reader as deep into the story as the hidden realms themselves.

Fairyland Series by Catherynne M Valente
Valente’s Fairyland, described across five books, is almost breathless in its invention – crammed with wit and whimsy and extraordinary imagery, bursting at the seams with vivid descriptions and outrageous puns – but despite its constant sense of wonder and its child audience, there’s nothing safe or constant about it. Valente’s Fairies are as capricious as they are kind, as likely to enslave children as enchant them – and it’s this streak of consequence that grounds the books and makes them truly extraordinary.

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng
Ng’s inspired missionaries-in-Fairyland hook draws the reader into a gothic parody of Victorian Formalism – masques and etiquette and social restrictions used and discarded by the amoral inhabitants as they see fit – all set in some of the most inventive geography ever seen in in fantasy, where the swings of a pendulous sun give way to the rise of a gargantuan moon-fish over a land covered in illusion-haunted fog.

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