When a good story is also educational, the reading pleasure multiplies. Author Holly Black of The Cruel Prince opened new vistas of faerie for me.
In the kingdom of Elfhame, the Seelie and the Unseelie Courts come together to swear fealty (or not) to the new High King.
What are Seelie and Unseelie Courts?
Here’s Faeriepedia’s explanation:
The Unseelie Court consists of the darkly-inclined fairies. Unlike the Seelie Court, no offense is necessary to bring down their assaults. As a group (or “host”), they appear at night and assault travelers, often carrying them through the air, beating them, and forcing them to commit such acts as shooting at cattle.
In addition to the faerie courts, author Black weaves in other faerie beings: sprites, hobs, pixies, pookas, nixies, and merrows.
According to faeriedust.moonfruit.com:
Faeries seem to fall generally into four categories:
- Air: Winged faeries and sylphs.
- Earth: Dwarves, gnomes and pixies.
- Water: Undines, mermaids and sirens.
- Fire: Salamanders.
In my books, the Karakesh Chronicles, I’ve included faeries and sylphs, dwarves and selkies. I’m delighted to learn that there are so many more faeries to put into stories!
Black’s descriptions of the faeries fascinated me. Some had pointed, fur-tipped ears, tails or black claws or green skin, all on a basic human body. There were interesting faerie facts, perhaps only occurring in Elfhame, such as faerie females being fertile maybe once a year. Black’s faeries enslave mortals with magic, working them cruelly.
Jude Duarte, the protagonist in The Cruel Prince, is a flawed main character. The choices she makes are surprising, clever, and sometimes appalling. Yet we still root for her as she slides deeper and deeper into the intrigue and power struggles of the kingdom.
Artists imagine faeries in many ways:
I’m taking a reading break from Faerieland, but I’ve got Black’s The Wicked King next in line.
And remember The Karakesh Chronicles, available at