Seelie or Unseelie Fae and The Cruel Prince

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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.

the cruel prince

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.

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According to
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.
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Artists imagine faeries in many ways:

  unseelie 1

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
fullsizeoutput_1d2fGBMCoverBeeKim copyAwakening Magic cover2


The Korobushka was the first folkdance I learned.  I was in fourth grade.  I had an unusual teacher that year.  Mr. Holabird played the bagpipes.  Along with the third grade teacher, Miss Simpkins, he taught us some folkdances.  We kids were sure they would get married, but they didn’t.


We learned a few more dances that year: the Troika, Miserlou, and maybe the Salty Dog Rag.


In high school, we had a folkdance unit in P.E.  The teacher assigned small groups of us to learn a dance outside of class.  Two of my friends and I learned Ahavat Hadassah from Dani Dassa, the owner of Cafe Dansa on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles.

By the time I got to U.C. Irvine, I was a hard core folkdancer. Hora Mamtera was my favorite dance.  It was so expansive, so wildly energetic, and took up so much space.

After leaving Irvine, there was a short dead space of dance until I moved to Santa Barbara.  Still a sleepy, seaside town, Santa Barbara was a folkdancer’s heaven.  We danced almost every day of the week.  Tuesday dances were at U.C.S.B.  Wednesday we danced at Oak Park, outdoors on a wooden platform that creaked and groaned under our weight.  On Fridays, the dancers took over the Plaka, a Greek cafe near the beach.  In between the belly dancer and the owner’s table dance, we folkdancers provided free entertainment to the diners.  I stretched out one glass of retsina from 8:00 to past midnight.  It was glorious.

On Sundays, we’d recovered enough to spend the afternoon dancing on the grassy strip along the beach.

Eventually, I joined an amateur Balkan dance troupe, Zdravitsa.  Here’s a version of Daichevo.

This last link above is of Aman, a professional dance troupe out of U.C.L.A. dancing a kopanitsa.  To be a member of Aman was the height of accomplishment.

Today, in my golden years, I’m blessed to be able to keep on dancing, here in New Paltz, N.Y., with a group of seniors as passionate as myself.



What is more hopeful than a house plant?

Yesterday, I saw a slender stem lifting up from our prayer plant.  Sure enough, this morning, one flower had bloomed atop the stem.  fullsizeoutput_20e3

What sort of pollinator could this plant hope to attract, sitting by the sliding door in our house?  A fruit fly?  And yet, it flowered. (And yet, she persists.)

The prayer plant (maranta leuconeura) is native to tropical forests in Brazil.  It prays by folding its leaves at night, like a pair of praying hands.  The red-veined leaves remind me of dragons’ wings.

Persistance or optimism?  To flower in a place so unlike her natural environment seems like hope to me.


The Green Man

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The Green Man, known as the Leshi in Eastern Europe, is an ancient pre-Christian deity found in many cultures.  In early times, winters were hard and long, the forest spread wide and was often dangerous, and folk revered the Green Man, symbol of rebirth, spring, and new growth.

The Leshi is a character in Book V of the Karakesh Chronicles.  He has the ability to shift his shape from the old man of the forest to a young, attractive fellow.  This youthful Leshi, feeling lusty in the spring, begets a son with—well, I’ll keep that a secret until the book appears in print.

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Take this link for more about the Green Man:

I find it fascinating that hundreds of years later, artists and writers are still creating works depicting the Green Man.  Here are just of the few representations that appealed to me.

greenman in Nuthurst  Green man in UK

Green Man by Toin Adams in Birmingham, Eng

by sculptor Toin Adams, Birmingham, England

Writing and Quilting…

Why do these two activities give me so much pleasure?  As Pat and I finished this quilt, I was considering the similarities.

You wouldn’t think that sewing and writing are alike, but they are metaphors for each other.  I plot a story in much the same way I arrange quilt blocks, choosing the elements of color, characters, and pacing.  In quilts, the design wall is my area of creation where fabrics move around until there is a harmonious whole.  Novels are more complex, but story elements are arranged, inserted, and removed to create a whole book.

Both activities are immensely satisfying, especially when they are complete and can be shared with an appreciative audience.

Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival

Coming to Rosendale Theater in October!


Anna Georges has gathered a stellar group of performers for the Second Annual Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival.

In addition to the October 12th performance, aficionados can participate in workshops at Unison Arts Center the following day.


Mark your calendars and get your tickets early!

Last year’s show sold out!

Go to this link for more information

Tangled in Magic Gets a Great Review

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Tangled in Magic

Kim Ellis

Handersen Publishing

9781941429518, $11.95

Diana Perry


When 15-year-old Agatha learns that her twin brother Malcolm may still be alive, she will sacrifice everything to find him. But powerful magic and conjured beasts are soon tracking her every move. The tiny Grassmen and their awful sneezie powder, a mystical Kermode bear, the Fens, a neverending forest, and a deadly panther are just some of the battles she must face. Archer, a wise but arrogant gyrfalcon, is her guide throughout her dangerous quest. Even if Agatha can locate her brother, they will have to battle the evil warlock that plotted against them and murdered their parents. Middle grade to young adult readers will find this a most adventurous tale. A great read! (Ages 14+)

These reviews also appear in the Cengage Learning, Gale interactive CD-ROM series “Book Review Index” which is published four times yearly for academic, corporate, and public library systems.

Additionally, these reviews will be archived on our Midwest Book Review website for the next five years