Lud-In-The-Mist – Hope Mirrlees

lud

I’d actually never heard of this one before, and came across it randomly from a more hard-core fantasy fan than me. It’s a novel from the 1920’s by a contemporary of Virginia Woolf who amusingly referred to the author as “prickly and perverse…rather conspicuously well dressed” and whom Neil Gaiman champions as a lost author of great merit.

The story is about a town built on the edge of Fairy called Lud-In-The-Mist, and revolves around the town denial of all things magical, the town Mayor Chanticleer who is a little strange, and a very old murder. Events spiral when the Mayors son eats fairy fruit, which is the biggest social faux pas and psychologically dangerous thing a person can do, and the local doctor Endimyon Leer suggests that the child be sent away to the country to recover. But the doctor is not all he appears to be, and has a plot of his own against the Chanticleers and against Lud-In-The-Mist.

An unusual little book, written with compassion and humour, it mocks some social mores and lampoons character types, whilst also being a great mystery and ripping yarn. The fairy elements are rather dark and not at all twee, like the cover might suggest. It’s the fairy of old: dark, a little twisted, dangerous and often not what it seems. It’s not Tinkerbell.

Truly, a forgotten gem.

Read It If: A must read for all fantasy fans, or for those who like the Bloomsbury set or adult fairy tales.

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