Thursday, 20 March 2014

Review: 'Faeries, Elves and Goblins' by Rosalind Kerven

I picked this book up on Netgalley because I have an absolutely love for any kind of myths. But there is a special place in my heart for Goblins, who are just deliciously mischievous and wicked.
Faeries, elves, goblins, leprechauns, brownies, spriggans and many other supernatural beings leap vividly off the page in this collection of 25 haunting stories and folklore from the rich narrative heritage of Britain and Ireland, including authentic historical material dating from Anglo-Saxon times, the early Middle Ages and the 17th Century. Marvel over ancient spells to summon faeries to your house, tremble at the shapeshifting powers of dangerous faery queens, lose yourself amongst the illusions of Faeryland and learn how to protect family members from the terrors of faery abduction. Interspersed with spotlight features on faery folklore, these tales cover faery morals, elvish misdemeanours, the spells cast by goblins and the sightings of the creatures, as well as their dealings with mortals.
With charming illustrations from favourite illustrators throughout, including Arthur Rackham, this book reminds us of the enduring appeal of folklore and mystery for all generations.
I absolutely love any kind of fairy story or mythical tale. I remember that we used to have a collection of stories from all across the world and I spent days reading them all and finding comparisons and loving how similar and yet different all of the tales were. This is also one of the things I love about this collection of 'Old Stories'. Collected from all across Britain, the stories share certain characteristics with most fairy tales and created, for me, a sense of how united people really are by stories like these. The same traditions and "rules" are followed by all the storytellers all across the world and when people come together and share stories they always find something that unites them.

It is hard to review a collection of short stories because you can't discuss all of them and when you like all of them, like I did, it also hard to pick out some to talk about while ignoring others. So I'm just going to try and make some general points. I really liked the representation of women in most of the fairy tales. Often, the role of women becomes quite stereotypical or submissive. They are the ones for whom the tales are written, to warn them off certain behaviour or to advise behaviour of a different kinds. The stories in this collection spread nicely across both genders and both found themselves sometimes the wiser and sometimes deceived.  Rosalind Kerven has a very nice writing style that flows very easily and all of the stories are a pleasure to read. I would recommend this book both as personal reading, as for me, or as a gift to a child. The stories and the writing style suit themselves beautifully to being read out loud.

The only minus point to this collection would be that the stories can become a bit repetitive when they are all read in a few sittings. Because they have been collected from all over, the characteristics of the stories differ, but goblins are largely seen the same way everywhere. If you are a fan of these kind of stories, that should not stop you. If you want to read a story every once in a while, this is also a great collection. If you already know a lot of the traditions etc. then you might want to look into different collections.

I give this collection...

3 Universes.

I loved reading the stories and I really liked how they had been collected from all over the UK. The design of the book was also beautiful and I think it would be a great addition to any bookshelf. The only minus point it shares with all other fairy tale collections: all the stories share an elemental theme and reading too much of it at once can become repetitive.

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