Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tough Traveling: Fae


Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.
This week’s topic is FAE
Surprisingly not in the Tough Guide.  How can this be?  Fairies are a constant in the fantasy world and it is time they get their own week.  Give us your Fae, be they sweet or nasty.

This is a weekly post that I often see over on Stephanie's blog, and I've been meaning to join in for AGES.  And this week is Fae, which is MY THING, so how could I not do this one?  (Pictures link to the books' Goodreads pages!)

I'm very picky about my Fae. They aren't magical cute beings - they are nasty, tricky, completely inhuman, and have intricate long plotted power plays. And generally think mortals are toys.  So it's clear who fills the most obvious and who I think absolutely nails this the best:


Holly Black is the absolute monarch among Fae stories.  Her character nail the brutality of the fae.  I hold all my other faerie tales up to this standard, and while many have come almost up to this level, I still haven't found anyone who's bested this series for it.  (Incidentally my rules for vampires are generally on the same principle as my fair folk*, and Holly Black has written one of the only vampire books that qualifies for this. I also haven't read many vampire books, so there's that.)

*It depends how the world is set up.  Vampire Academy books for example are built on a completely different mythology than normal, and The Finishing series is also not supposed to be that way.  But traditional vampires as we've come to think of? I don't want de-teethed vampires. They need to be bad. (I'm not opposed to the occasional swoon. But only if they're still bad.)

That being said, there are still plenty of Faerie books I've loved.


This book was totally not what I was expecting! I thought it was going to be fluffy fun times...but this book takes the Fair Folk seriously. As they should be taken.  So I was pleasantly surprised (but of course had my heart stomped on too...) when I started this one.


I'm pretty sure Fae show up in all of Marillier's book at least to a small extent.  These fae aren't brutal the same way Holly Black's are, (Or what I've seen of Kerstin Hamilton's) but they are impassive to humans and far-thinking. And they play a bigger role in the later Sevenwaters books.  


Ok, admittedly I actually didn't like this book. That ending PISSED. ME. OFF.  That being said...Brom SUPER nails the brutality and child-like cruelty that I picture my Fae having.  I mean solidly nails it. Which is why it's on this list even though I didn't like it.  In fact, these Fae are right up there with Holly Black's ... I just got angry enough at this that I refuse to include on my list of...pretty much just Holly Black. Or really, definitely just Holly Black haha!'


Ok, technically it's been so long since I reread this one that I can't remember what the Fair Folk were like in it. But since I've loved it since I was a child, my guess is that they are just as tricksy as I like...but perhaps not as brutal. Being a children's book and all.  Though you never know, they very well might be - children's books are often not all fun and games, and this one definitely deals with some STUFF.


Ok another disclaimer - I read the first three books of this in high school and some how have exactly 0% recollection of this. Except that I'm pretty sure I really, really liked it.  So statistically's likely this had Faeries I like? It definitely has faeries, but if I included every book I read with them, this list would never end.

Honorable Mentions

The Raven Boys - So technically this doesn't have any Fair Folk.  But there are certain aspects of the mythology (I don't want to say much because SPOILERS. So. Yeah.) that definitely feel like a book with the Fair Folk.
Neverwhere - Gaiman doesn't have what I would traditionally consider Fae in his books...but they all have characters that are very, very similar.  This one definitely comes the closest to what I'd call Fae. Actually I probably would call them Fae. But I've already put it down here, so it's going to stay down here.
A Great and Terrible Beauty - The way magic works and what you find in the other world definitely feels Fae. This might actually also technically belong not on the honourable mentions.  WHATEVER I'VE BEEN UP SINCE 5 AM. I can put these wherever I want them!


  1. Laura @ Half-Strung HarpMarch 12, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    Welcome to Tough Travels, Elizabeth! I can tell this is a topic that's close to your heart - great list. :D (I'm the complete opposite, heh.)

    Love the look of your blog - it's so neat and tidy. And love the title! :D

  2. YAY a new Tough Traveler :) Welcome! Confession time: I haven't read any of these :( I've had Marillier on my tbr for months now but can't seem to get around to reading her books...

  3. Nice list. I've just finished Dreamer's Pool by Marillier so had that one on my list of fae - can't wait to read Daughter of the Forest.
    Lynn :D

  4. I still need to read Holly Black. I have The Darkest Part of the Forest on my list and I'm on the holds list for the audiobook at my library. I hear that one has great fairies :)


  5. I agree. Most of Neverwhere feels like an urban fairy take particularly.

  6. I really enjoyed Tithe. The first fae book that pops into mind is Elfland by Freda Warrington. Beautifully written.

  7. Thank you! And it is haha. I am rarely ADAMANT about bookish things....but I am about my faeries.

    And thank you again haha!

  8. Yay! Tough Traveling has been lots of fun so far :). I'm a staunch Marillier fan, but you definitely need to be ok with longish fantasy novels. Which of couse is exactly what I like so she's perfect for me haha!

  9. Dreamer's Pool is actually one of only two Marillier novels I haven't read yet! (I haven't read the last book in her Shadowfell trilogy). I definitely recommend Daughter of the Forest to pretty much everyone though haha!

  10. Yes! I do think that Tolkien's elves are particularly fae like. And they definitely have some of the darker qualities that I value in my fae (or at least SOME of the elves. Not all of them. Or maybe even most.) I absolutely love, love, LOVE Holly Black. She writes pretty much always in some form of gritty urban fantasy. The Modern Faerie Tales are my favourite, but I don't think the way she writes those (or at least Tithe) appeals to everyone. It's can be a bit...well have you ever read any Francesca Lia Block? I can't really explain the writing, but it's...odd. In a good way, at least for me. She's also got the Curseworker trilogy which is all sorts of fun (con man/mafia in a future world with magic) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was a vampire book that I LOVED. Which is rare. Very rare.

  11. I haven't read that one yet, but I want it SO. BAD. Because Holly Black + Faeries = the BEST.

  12. Yes! Those are exactly the words I needed!

  13. Oh I'm going to add Tithe to my list :) I haven't read any of these (aside from Neverwhere which I *love*). I do enjoy it when Fae are depicted as being...well...not very nice, because they're not meant to be nice!

  14. I definitely think Tithe is up your alley! The Child Thief might be too? It's pretty dark. And made me really, really angry. Which is not to say that it's bad, if that makes sense?

  15. I haven't read Block but I am definitely intrigued by she and Holly Black. For some reason I thought Holly Black was a fairly recent debut author but obviously she has quite the back list!

  16. Aaaah! How could I forget the Child Thief? HOW? It was one of the best books I read last year, how could that slipped my mind? Okay, enough regrets. But I congratulate you, because the Child Thief is a really cool pick :-)

  17. I've got another of Brom's books that a friend loaned me that I just haven't got to yet. I'm...a bit reluctant. I had such a violent reaction to The Child Thief, that I'm not sure how I'll like this one. I do like dark...but I think Brom might actually be a bit too dark for me haha! So it's something I can appreciate...but also understand that it might just not be my thing (which is a shame. I think I should be able to enjoy everything I think is good!)

  18. Well, I can understand that. I've only read the Child Thief by him and I admit it's a bit dark... for me, that was great. It's has the kind of apocalyptic touch I like. But I understand when it's too violent for some people.

    P.S. I've got an English blog too and I think I've got it linked somewhere :-)

  19. Yeah, I forget sometimes that as much as I like the idea of dark, violent things...dark, violent things usually give me nightmares haha!

    And I found it! Yay!


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