Traveling the Worlds of Fairy / Faery / Faerie / Fey

Elizabeth Bluemle - February 20, 2018

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert had been high up in my to-read stack for a long time, but it was propelled to the top by my colleague Emily’s recent text. “I have a new obsession,” she wrote, and sent the photo shown at right, adding, “Omg. I’m actually scared. It’s scary! And delicious! I feel like a teenager.” (Emily’s in her young 30’s, so she IS practically a teenager, comparatively speaking.) She said she was reading under the covers, she was so scared. Who could resist that level of engagement with a book?!
The premise is creepily appealing: a teenage girl, Alice, has been on the run with her single mom all her life, both of them followed by eerie, sometimes violent runs of bad luck in each new way-station and haunted by fragments of twisted, dark fairy tales written by Alice’s grandmother—a woman Alice doesn’t know—in a book that is impossible to find but has a huge cult following. When Alice’s mother disappears after a particularly disturbing encounter with—but no, that would be telling. Suffice it to say that she disappears, and Alice is frantic to find her. And that fairy tales have a way of coming horribly true.

When I picked up the book, I was immediately hooked, as Emily had been. Melissa Albert is one of those writers who puts me in the mood to write; I love her imagery and her seemingly-loose-but-actually-tight structure, her ability to create fear and dread in the most ordinary settings. While I wasn’t reading it under the covers (I must be more hardened to the spooky than Emily), I read it with relish and devoured it in two sittings. Would have been one but I had to work! I loved the book, and craved more.
The fairy tale / faery aspects of The Hazel Wood and the mood cast by its combination of beauty and eeriness felt like visiting friends I hadn’t seen in a while. It’s not at all that the book isn’t fresh—it is—but there’s something deeply compelling in a particular way about fey tales. It’s like stepping into the world of the Brothers Grimm, a place we’ve known since childhood but that never loses its strangeness. If you’d asked me, I would have told you I hadn’t read that many young adult and middle grade fantasies with a faerie component—maybe three or four—but I started making a list, and it turns out I’m kind of a faery glutton.
In case you, too, are smitten by the creepy fair folk and your pointy teeth are hungry for more, here are some books that do justice to a genre that nobody can spell consistently but that these authors deliver beautifully. Click on the covers to learn more! (Many of these are firsts in series; I just included the kickoff title to each.)
And here’s one I can’t wait to read next!  
Do you have faerie titles that aren’t part of the series shown here? Emily and I are looking for more scary-delicious reads that make us feel like teenagers again and take us into the dark woods with the fair folk.

8 thoughts on “Traveling the Worlds of Fairy / Faery / Faerie / Fey

    1. Sandra Roy

      Diana Wynne Jones’s FIRE AND HEMLOCK is a brilliant retelling of the Tam Lin story, with a malignant faery queen, as beautiful as day.

  1. Shirley Mullin Kids Ink

    I loved the Folk Keeper but had forgotten about it…thanks for the reminder!
    Be sure to add Granted by John Dave Anderson. It’s a new fairy story for the intermediate level. Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is prepared for her first assignment out in the world keeping magic alive. Carrying out her assignment is a challenge at times funny and at time a real disaster.

  2. VickeyB

    The “Crowfield” books, by Pat Walsh, are wonderful. The first two, “Crowfield Curse” and “Crowfield Demon” are set in an abbey in medieval England. The most recent, “The Hob and the Deerman” is set much later, in the time of Henry VIII, after the monks have been forced out and the abbey destroyed.
    There are angels, demons, fay people and humans populating the books, and terrifying battles between good and evil. The books are spooky, and downright scary in places, but leave the reader wanting more!

  3. Elizabeth Bluemle Post author

    Thanks, Vickey, Shirley, and Sandra! Looking forward to those new faerie worlds. Sandra, I had read but forgotten to include the magnificent FIRE AND HEMLOCK; that Diana Wynne Jones! Always brilliant.

  4. Lindsey

    CHIME by Franny Billingsley (standalone, different world than THE FOLK KEEPER). I just delight in the language every time I pick it up.


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