“Summerland’s Paladin” Mythos

Summerland’s Paladin,” by Diana Benedict, appears in Midwinter Fae, the second volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries.

Hunted by his half-brothers, who despise his alter fox persona, Todd escapes into the forest during a snowstorm. A talking raven speaks to him just as Todd’s brothers close in. With nothing to lose, Todd follows the bird into a tunnel of branches. When he comes out, he is in Summerland, and the King of Ravens presents him to the Queen of Faerie as Summerland’s savior.

The queen offers him two choices. Find a way to keep winter from tightening its grip on the faerie kingdom, the truth about his parents, and win a wife and a place to call his own. Or he can return to face his death at the hands of his half-brothers.

But winter is not the only enemy facing Summerland, and Todd must discover the real enemy and the path to victory.



Wikipedia notes that Reynard, a clever fox, arose in France in the 12th Century in stories born of folklore. They made fun of the aristocracy, with Reynard outwitting the other animals.

Through the years, Reynard has come to be recognized as a trickster, a kind Coyote, the Native Americans’ trickster, or a Brer Rabbit in fox fur. I had read of Reynard’s exploits in several 20th Century novels and loved each version, including:

  • Reynard, a genetically modified part-fox, is a major character in John Crowley’s novel Beasts.
  • Reynard, in a variety of lives and names often containing “Guy,” “Fox,” “Fawkes,” and “Reynard,” is one of the leading characters in the Book of All Hours Duology by Hal Duncan, and is stated to be every incarnation of the trickster throughout the multiverse.
  • A human version of the character appears in David R. Witanowski’s novel Reynard the Fox.
  • The Fantasy detective Peter Grant crosses paths with Reynard in the novel The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch.

It doesn’t hurt that I love foxes, the way they look, the clever way they hunt mice, their furry tails.

I was pleased to see a YouTube video of a fox some time ago that was caught in a trap and played dead until the hunter put him in the box he was using for his kills. As soon as the hunter turned away, the fox was up and running, presumably to live another day, and now knowing to avoid the traps.

So incorporating the idea of a cunning fox in my story was a natural.

My main character’s name is Todd, which is the Middle English name for “fox”, and has also been used in the Disney animated animal version of Robin Hood. “Dog” has been historically used to denote a male fox, which could be confusing, so the thought is the Middle English folks started using Todd as a way to denote a male fox to differentiate between the fox and a domesticated dog. As a matter of interest, a female fox is called a vixen, and their babies are called kits.

My character, Todd, is the son of the granddaughter of Reynard, the King of Foxes, and Todd’s own father was a pixie, a notorious trickster. It will take all of the clever cunning of his parentage he can rally to solve the conundrum the Fae queen has tasked him with.

The Wren and Robin Solstice Battles

The Holly King of winter is the wren, and the Oak King of summer is the robin. They fight each solstice, signaling the end of one season and the beginning of another. But the loser does not die, according to Janet and Stewart Farrar in their book The Witches’ God, a non-fiction book exploring a selection of male deities and how they relate to the practice of witchcraft. The loser of that season’s battle only goes to Cair Arienhrod, the castle of the ever-turning silver wheel, a reference to the wheel of the Earth as delineated by the changing sky and seasons. There the defeated brother rests and regains his strength for the battle at the next solstice.

The wren and robin are sacrificial, seasonal heroes, playing out a never-ending tale under an ever turn wheel of the seasons in the world. It is a beautiful, if sad story, that is evergreen and hopeful in the end still capable of stirring the heart and soul of humans who have long thought they moved past the need for such symbols. Silly humans.

About Diana

Diana lives in a small suburban Colorado city a mile away from where she grew up. She loves studying magic and history and will take any opportunity to combine them into a good story. She once tried to work a spell inspired by a tale her great aunt told her and has always felt lucky that it only turned her fingers green for a week

Find Diana

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Midwinter Fae, which contains Diana Benedict’s story “Summerland’s Paladin,” is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle. Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

One Dark Summer Night: The Stories behind the Story

The overarching story from One Dark Summer Night is a fairly typical one for the fae: the fae have been interfering with the mortals again, and have left behind them a changeling—or possibly more than one. The main twist in the tale comes when several human scientists at an isolated university in the Midwest decide to not just try to banish the changelings, but experiment upon them.

In building the world of the novel (which I’m working into a series), I pulled together several different sources of stories. I didn’t really consider what I was doing at the time; I was under deadline and was trying to pull everything together as quickly as possible. But sometimes the muse provides gifts that we only realize later.

What I found, when I went to look back at what I had written, was that my sources split into two groups: traditional tales and some “urban legends” from when I was going to college, rumors that were so unsubstantiated that I can’t even remember if I’m getting them straight.

On the more traditional side, my inspirations are the stories about the fae and changelings, and (to a much lesser extent) about vampires.

The legend of changelings, or mortal babies swapped for ones from the fae, seems to be common across several different cultures, but the ones I know best are from the stories of W.B. Yeats’s Folk and Fairy Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888), which I probably know at about exactly the right level for a writer—well enough to inspire, but not well enough to be obsessively accurate about.

From Yeats’s section on Changelings:

“Sometimes the fairies fancy mortals, and carry them away into their own country, leaving instead some sickly fairy child, or a log of wood so bewitched that it seems to be a mortal pining away, and dying, and being buried. Most commonly they steal children. If you “over look a child,” that is look on it with envy, the fairies have it in their power.”

And, toward the end of that section:

“Those who are carried away are happy, according to some accounts, having plenty of good living and music and mirth. Others say, however, that they are continually longing for their earthly friends. Lady Wilde gives a gloomy tradition that there are two kinds of fairies—one kind merry and gentle, the other evil, and sacrificing every year a life to Satan, for which purpose they steal mortals.”

The idea has caught at me ever since I read that: the fae have someone else they owe a debt to, which causes them to act against mortals.

In addition, it seems that many of the fairy mounds of Ireland were originally burial mounds from pre-Christian to early-Christian Irish pagans (depending on the site, they may instead have been temporary fortifications). The mounds were held as sacred, being under the protection of the Aos Sí who lived there. That is, the same fae who would sometimes snatch up a child or adult, and replace them with someone who wasted and died. Or would abduct someone entirely, returning them to their homes a hundred years later, seemingly untouched by time.

The more I thought about it, the more it sounded like the fae in Ireland served the same purpose as vampires did in Eastern European mythology: to mediate a half-world between the living and the dead.

My fae aren’t vampires; they don’t suck blood. But the idea that the fae weren’t exactly cute little fluttery things from a Disney movie was definitely set in my head, and my fae are perfectly willing to commit violence upon anyone who crosses them—and to replace them with changelings.

On the less traditional side of my inspirations for the story, that is, the “urban legend” side, the inspirations are much harder to track down—in fact, so hard to track down that I’m not going to explicitly name my alma mater, because of the complete lack of accuracy.

Some of the stories (whether accurate, genuine legends, “urban legends,” or wisps of rumor) that I remember include:

  • There were tunnels that ran underneath the entire campus, but that no one used anymore because they were either unsafe or haunted.
  • Grad students in biology had to secretly vivisect dogs in order to pass their classes, as a sort of rite of passage.
  • The Spirit Mound, a Native American site outside my alma mater, was haunted by ghosts, dangerous spirits, or the “little people,” who once wiped out a band of over 350 warriors in a single night.
  • An old highway bridge in the town had been half-destroyed, and the half that still remained was haunted (it was definitely creepy and covered with layers and layers of graffiti).
  • There were Wendigo (dark, cannibalistic spirits from Native tribes nowhere near where I went to college) in the woods near the river.
  • Several gay people had been murdered by frat boys out in those same woods by hanging, and their ghosts would appear on tree branches (as far as I can find out, this one definitely wasn’t true).

Some other elements that got thrown in include sculptures and Shakespeare.

While I was at the school, there were a number of art students who had a propensity for welding all sorts of strange things together, adding found objects, and leaving their sculptures in town—I think they were just leaving the sculptures at their rental houses, but at the time it seemed Strange and Mysterious, and it stuck in my head.

And the theater department was (and is, if I understand correctly) top-notch, and had a specialty of pulling off excellent Shakespeare. The lead Shakespearean when I went was a professor named Dr. Ron Moyer, who unfortunately passed in 2018. While I was there, he passed on a small sliver of his love for the bard to me—especially regarding Midsummer’s.

Because I was in such a hurry, the other elements in the story are pretty much as given: the train-car diner, the winding trail down to the other side of town, the train tracks, the various trailer courts, and the all-night grocery store.

I’ve returned to the college since I graduated several times, and it’s no longer the same town that I remember; it’s no longer magical, and no longer creepy or dangerous. (And the diner, which passed through several iterations, is gone.) A lot of the things that were broken back then have been removed or replaced. It’s a cleaner, shinier, more well-maintained place. People have died, disappeared, moved on: it feels like a different town now. Not quite a changeling of what it once was, but definitely a replacement.

I hadn’t realized, as I was hurriedly writing a story about what was “really” going on underneath the surface of the town, that I was really writing about my nostalgia for those days: the crazy adventures that I had with friends, the lonely, cold nights of walking out in the woods by the river (and thinking: I hope the frat boys don’t get me), the sense that things were decaying more than anyone wanted to admit.

I was also writing about how the headiness of those days had faded. The people I had known were gone, dead, or changed. The town itself had moved on, and only some weird half-twisted memories in my head remained.

I wrote this story because I wanted to capture the feel of the town—and then the feel of everything being wrecked and changed afterward, to write about what it felt like to suddenly find out that it was all gone. In the story, everything is destroyed in a matter of hours rather than decades, but the gradual passage of time does tend to come as a shock, the first time you catch it happening.

Everyone has a first love, I suppose; underneath the words that I wrote is the story of my first real love of a place, and the way it became something I didn’t recognize, and never was the way I thought it was in the first place.

But these things happen. That’s one of the reasons the fae are still around. How would we be able to describe the world without them?

About DeAnna

DeAnna Knippling is always tempted to lie on her bios. Her favorite musician is Tom Waits, and her favorite author is Lewis Carroll. Her favorite monster is zombies. Her life goal is to remake her house in the image of the House on the Rock, or at least Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You should buy her books. She promises that she’ll use the money wisely on bookshelves and secret doors. She lives in Colorado and is the author of the A Fairy’s Tale horror series which starts with By Dawn’s Bloody Light, and other books like The Clockwork Alice, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre, and more.

Find DeAnna

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One Dark Summer Night is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle. Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Mythology of The Faery Chronicles

Faeries. Angels. Gods. Demons.

All of these figure into the mythology of the Faery Chronicles and its sister series, the Soul Forge. This is supposed to be a post about that mythology—and it is. But I have a particular relationship with mythology, so I’m going to come at this topic a little sideways.

Most of the time, an author chooses one kind of supernatural being to inhabit the world of a novel or series. They build—or borrow—the mythology of their world from there, creating elaborate kingdoms, hierarchies, and relationships among supernatural beings, and between the supernatural and the human.

That’s how things began with the first book in the Faery Chronicles, too. Faery Novice started out as a story about what happens when Kevin Landon, our human teenager who wants nothing more than to escape his alcoholic father. He wants a full ride scholarship to a college of his choice. A new life. A normal life. What happens when he discovers he’s anything but? When he realizes he has a magical power that makes him the target of the Faery King?

Unpleasant shenanigans ensue.

Faeries in popular stories in Western culture are often conceived of as tiny, wish-granting beings with wings. These beings bear little resemblance to the real deal.

Yes, I did just call faeries “real.”

Many cultures all over the world have stories about the beings we call faeries. It seems foolish to wave away hundreds (or thousands) of years of tradition as superstition—as if Western peoples don’t have our own stories and myths.

So, who am I talking about when I talk about the fae? While some may be small in stature and may, under certain circumstances, appear to grant wishes, they have their own purposes in these cultural stories. Some like humans, and some don’t. Some are helpful, and some are hostile. Humans have maintained friendly relations with the fae—or appeased them—by observing and following culturally-mandated rules around appropriate behavior and offerings.

Don’t cut down that hawthorn tree. Don’t build your house on top of that ley line or fairy track. Don’t eat blackberries after Samhain. Do offer cream or butter.

In some cultures, the fae are the primordial forces deep within the land. The guardians of forests, lakes, and rivers. The keepers of mountains. The shapers of fate, fertility, and prosperity, among many other things. The fae are not and have never been human. They don’t think like humans or have the same morality, motivations, or goals. We forget this at our peril.

That is who the fae are in Faery Novice. And Kevin Landon, normal human teenager turned instant freak, has no choice but to deal with them as exactly who and what they are.

Faery Prophet
, the second Faery Chronicles book, brings demons and gods into the mix. After all, all three types of beings, or stories about them, are found or told in our world. Why shouldn’t they co-exist in the world of the Faery Chronicles, too?

So, demons: Are they individual beings bent on tempting and damning humans, or are they metaphors for the impulses and psychological complexes that cause us fear and shame?

In Faery Prophet, Rude Davies battles both. As the city’s only magical law enforcement, it’s his job. He’s afraid he’s not enough to take on an apocalypse—and he might be right. But people without the kind of power he wields—without any magic at all—battle their own demons every day. Who is he to give up when the odds stack against him?

Rude must contend not just with demons, but with the local god as well. Malek, the serpent from the Garden of Eden, holds the kind of power that changes the course of entire worlds. What do you do when someone like that gives you an order you don’t want to follow? What if, to do what you know in your heart is right, you have to break a promise to a god like him?

Rude must decide whether and how to stand up to power greater than his own. That’s a lot of trouble wrapped inside a tall order.

The question of angels—what they are and what purposes they serve—rises in the sister series to the Faery Chronicles, the Soul Forge books.

In the Soul Forge, angels are keepers of universal natural law. Some are better than others at following the rules. Some are friends to humans, and others are downright dangerous to life and limb, not to mention souls.

Book One of the Soul Forge, Angel Hunts, introduces heroine Night Sanchez. A former magical assassin on the run, Night faces a perfect storm. The Order she ran from tracks her down, magical law enforcement wants her dead, and the Angel of Death just wants her. Every action she takes to protect the people she loves draws her deeper into the machinations of angels looking to thwart or set off the capital-A Apocalypse.

That problem requires serious out-of-the-box thinking to solve, and a willingness to risk everything. As is often said, freedom isn’t free. What kind of price is Night willing to pay for hers? What price would you pay?

Can humans and angels—and faeries and gods and demons—come together to defeat a common enemy, solve life-and-death problems, and come to value each other for the unique gifts each brings to the table?

These are the kinds of questions I’m interested in asking.

There are so many ways to answer, and the characters in the Faery Chronicles and the Soul Forge try over and over again to do that in the novels, and in the many novelettes and short stories set in the same universe.

So, what about the mythology in these books and stories, and my particular relationship with mythology in general? How does all of this tie together?

I see the world as steeped in myth. For me, a shift in vision or a step sideways, a change in light or a heartfelt understanding can bring about a deep feeling of connection with the natural world and with others. Sometimes, I read myths as helpful instructions of what to do—or what not to do. Sometimes, I read them as allegories or metaphors. And, sometimes, I read them as if they are absolutely true.

I believe humans are at our best when we recognize all of our qualities, not just the ones we might feel proud of, but the ones we want to hide. I believe each one of us is enough.

I believe that humans are at our best when we’re in a state of connection with ourselves, each other, the natural world around us, those that have gone before us, and those who will come after. I believe we’re all interconnected, and the sooner we see our own reflection in a stranger’s eyes, the sooner we’ll realize there’s no such thing as a stranger.

We’re all here to help each other. Kindness goes a long way. Hope is everything.

So, faeries, demons, gods, and angels aside, that is the mythology in the Faery Chronicles and the Soul Forge. Except it’s not mythology at all. It’s the characters’ truth. And it’s mine.

About Leslie

Since the age of seven, Leslie Claire Walker has wanted to be Princess Leia—wise and brave and never afraid of a fight, no matter the odds.

Leslie hails from the concrete and steel canyons and lush bayous of southeast Texas—a long way from Alderaan. Now, she lives in the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest with a cast of spectacular characters, including cats, harps, fantastic pieces of art that may or may not be doorways to other realms, and too many fantasy novels to count.

She is the author of the Awakened Magic Saga, a collected series of urban fantasy novels, novellas, and stories filled with magical assassins, fallen angels, faeries, demons, and complex, heroic humans. The primary series in the saga are the Soul Forge, set in Portland, Oregon, and the Faery Chronicles, set in Houston Texas. She has also authored stories for The Uncollected Anthology on a mission to redefine the boundaries of contemporary and urban fantasy.

Leslie takes her inspiration from the dark beauty of the city, the power of myth, strong coffee, whisky, and music ranging from Celtic harp to jazz to heavy metal. Rock on!

Find Leslie

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Faerie Novice and Faery Prophet are available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle. Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Mythology of the Schattenreich: A Quick Primer

When I first started writing Primary Fault, Book 1 of 5 of the Schattenreich series, I only had a vague idea of the dimensions of this as yet undiscovered land. Equally uncertain was what it looked like, smelled like or felt like. The population of this supernatural realm, that I named Ande-dubnos for the Breton (a Celtic language spoken in the Brittany region of France) word for Otherworld, was also relatively unknown.

Are there fairy folk in Ande-dubnos? If so, are they dangerous? Yes. And yes. But first…

I made a conscious decision, necessitated by the nature of the human/mortal characters in the Schattenreich series (Germanic-Breton heritage, a long and complicated history) to concentrate on the western European, continental Celtic, Late Iron Age culture. Later books in the series address the (possible) syncretization of Germanic-Celtic culture in the Rhineland (see, for example, Hilda Ellis Davidson’s excellent Myths and Symbols of Pagan Europe), since much of the story throughout all five books takes place there.

This approach seemed reasonable. Until I began to appreciate how little is known about continental Celtic religion (not to mention the Germanic religion, as opposed to Norse of which a lot more is known. See, for example, Rudolf Simek’s Religion und Mythologie der Germanen).

It was disappointing to realize that basically the only information that exists about druids, the high priests of the Late Iron Age Celtic religion, was written by their conquerors, the Romans, in particular, Julius Caesar (de bello Gallico).

There is still a lively debate among historians, archeologists, and linguists about whether the druids really existed. I wanted druids. I needed them for the story I had decided to tell. So I used this uncertainty, made it a part of the skepticism/agnosticism my ‘druids’ had of their own religion.

But that wasn’t the only problem. While there is a vibrant history of the fairy folk in Ireland and the U.K., what mythology exists still in western Europe has been highly diluted, often reduced to folk tales and superstitions, by the relatively rapid, near-total Christianization of the continent.

There are inscriptions, of course, and these continued even in Gallo-Roman times, a faint but persistent memory of a culture that had been nearly completely obliterated by the Roman conquest of the continent.

There is also the problem that the Celts wrote nothing down. Absolutely, really, nothing. At least nothing that has been found.

So populating Ande-dubnos with deities and fairy folk was a challenge.

I first subdivided Ande-dubnos into four main subrealms and then began to populate them.

1) There is the Schattenreich, which belongs to a particular family of humans (a blood legacy born of a geis and Cathubodua’s curse).
2) There is Ande-dubnos proper, a venerable forest whose borders are mutable, and this sub-realm is ruled by Cernunnos, which means, roughly, ‘the horned one’. He is documented on several tens of inscriptions, notably the Gundestrup cauldron, where he is pictured in a Buddha-like pose, with horns, and holding a torc, a necklace typically worn by Celtic chieftains/aristocrats, an open circle usually made of gold.
Cernunnos shares his realm with (among a few, select others) Cathubodua (translatable as ‘battle crow’), a triple goddess of war and kingship, perhaps equivalent to the Irish Mórrígan or Badb Catha. She is known from a single inscription. Cathubodua is potent and quick to anger, and she leveled a curse against the ancestors of the von der Lahn family formulated to last for nine times nine generations. Some serious stuff. Cathubodua’s curse plays an important role in the Schattenreich series and shapes the attitudes and actions of some of the characters.
3) The Between Lands is a shadowy, dangerous realm populated by a number of supernatural creatures, and it has not, at this time, been fully explored by the humans who have access to the Otherworld. Melusine, half-fairy, perhaps half-dragon, and the presumed progenitor of French, English, and Cypriot royal houses, inhabits the Between Lands. Her duty is to preserve the Dreams, her special provenance, that exists there, and in which she enlists the help of humans. They only have to die first to get there.
4) The Lands Beyond are ruled by Ankou, who exists as a (mostly medieval) figure in Breton folk tales as a psychopomp who arrives with his horse and creaky wagon to collect the newly dead. I’ve re-styled him as Lord of the Dead with his own realm of the Otherworld. Ankou is ancient and powerful, and there are secretive hints of older names. Some hypothesize he even created Ande-dubnos. While writing the series, Ankou rose to prominence, and has remained a central important figure in the Schattenreich series.

Ande-dubnos, the Otherworld, is a magical world. Most humans do not have access to it. Those that do must learn how to cross the veil from the waking world (our reality) into the Otherworld. At the time that Primary Fault takes place, this is a one-way border, closed to the denizens of the Otherworld, prohibiting them from accessing the waking world. And that is a good thing.

The rank and file population of Ande-dubnos are called the Tud, the Breton word for folk. They are (possibly) immortal, supernatural beings. Some of them, many in fact, have some mortal, human blood. The Tud are the fairy folk of Ande-dubnos. They come in different sizes and shapes. Most of them are also shape-shifters. And most of them crave human blood. It gives them sustenance and helps them connect to the Dreams, which they also crave.

It is best to avoid the Tud when traveling in Ande-dubnos. Unless the traveler has powerful magic with which to fight them off. Or is willing to trade. But beware of making deals with any of the denizens of Ande-dubnos, because the price can indeed be very costly.

About Sharon

Now a full-time writer living near Cologne, Sharon Kae Reamer’s speculative fiction is inspired by her participation in various archeoseismology projects during her twenty-something years as a senior scientist at the University of Cologne. Locations that include the Praetorium and medieval Jewish settlement in Cologne, ancient Tiryns in Greece, and Greek ruins in Selinunte, Sicily, provide perfect backdrops for creating fantasy stories rich with history and mythology, such as her Immortal Guardian and Schattenreich Mystery novelette series and her five-book Schattenreich novel series.

Her love for mixing and mashing science fiction and fantasy continues unabated. Night Shepherd, in the Schattenreich universe is a spinoff (one of many) of her soon-to-be-published first novel in The Sundered Veil series, a further conception of science fantasy.

Sharon still pursues archeoseismology projects. She also cooks daily (German-English), gardens (chaotically, at best), knits (badly), does needlepoint (rather well) and reads (everything) all the damn time.

And, of course, she has cats.

Find Sharon

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Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

The Tales of Aylfenhame: a Love Letter to the Small Stories

Writing a new tale of Aylfenhame always begins with the good stuff: reading. There’s research to be done: some into the history of my setting of choice (the county of Lincolnshire, in the heart of England); and some into the old stories that abound there. Folklore and folktale, little yarns about little people. The small stories.

We’ve all heard the beloved tales of Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. But who remembers Tatterfoal, a hobgoblin in horse’s shape, who terrifies travellers on the old country roads? We know about the will-o-wisp, but what about its cousins in different clothes—like the Lincolnshire will-o-the-wyke? There’s the chilling tale of Yallery Brown, a stone-hearted trickster, who ruthlessly punishes the farm-boys kind enough to help him. Or Tom Tit Tot, an English version of Rumpelstiltskin. Some of these make it into the books; some don’t. All of them are inspiring.

While the Aylfenhame series is deeply rooted in English folklore, and particularly that of Lincolnshire, sometimes I like to step beyond English shores. Mr. Balligumph, the amiable troll guarding the Tilby toll-bridge, is a borrowing from Scandinavian folklore, though far friendlier than his antecedents. And giants, of course, appear in folkloric traditions all over the globe (though as far as I know, tree-giants, like Sir Guntifer, are my own creation).

In Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver, I venture into another ancient British folktale: that of the Hollow Hills, those mythical, hidden realms, frequently deep under the earth, where the creatures of faerie live. Full of wonder and danger in equal measure, the Hollows are places of glamour and beauty, trickery and bedazzlement. Venture Below, and you won’t return unchanged. Indeed, you may never return at all…

It’s also a book in which riddles play a prominent part. Riddles, in verse and sometimes in rhyme, often appear in the old stories, and some wonderful, ancient nonsense songs have survived into the modern era. Tales of the unlikely lad or lass, adrift in a strange world, who outwits a faerie, and escapes a terrible fate; these are popular all over Britain — perhaps, all over the world. My take on this theme is Phineas Drake, the baker’s boy. He may be far out of his depth with the fae of Aylfenhame, with only his wits to help him; but in a world of riddles and tricks and glamours, a lively wit might just be enough.

I recommend a delve into the small stories, wherever you happen to be. There’ll be plenty. Listen to the old nursery tales, the odd little songs, the rhymes and the ghost stories. Some will seem familiar; some unfathomably strange. All will have something to say about the people of yesteryear, and the fears and hopes of those who lived long ago.

But however different our modern world may seem from those long-lost times, these stories resonate just as much with the folk of today. We’re just as intrigued by the allure of adventure. We’re still faced with dangers, and struggles, and obstacles to overcome. And when times get tough, we’d all like to believe the same thing: that if we can hang onto our wits and our courage and the people we love, then everything will be all right in the end.


About Charlotte

English both by name and nationality, Charlotte hasn’t permitted emigration to the Netherlands to change her essential Britishness (much). She writes colourful fantasy novels over copious quantities of tea, and rarely misses an opportunity to apologise for something. A lifelong history buff and Jane Austen fan, the Tales of Aylfenhame series combines her love of Regency history with her deep appreciation for fantasy, whimsy and magic—and all things fae.

Find Charlotte

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Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle. Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…