Five Favorite Faerie Stories

At the end of May, my story “An Exodus of Wings” was published in Daily Science Fiction. In celebration – belated celebration, but celebration nonetheless – I have come up with my Five Favorite Faerie Stories. Told in three points-of-view, “An Exodus of Wings” is a story about people struggling to communicate with one another in a world where fairy pests invade homes like roaches. It’s my third professional story publication ever and this year, making me triply eligible for the John W. Campbell award next year.

Of course, I haven’t read all the fairy stories out there, so if you have any suggestions for further fairy reading, please leave them in the comments.

“The Annals of Eelin-Ok” by Jeffrey Ford
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow
Free read: http://www.speculativeliterature.org

Jeffrey Ford’s “The Annals of Eelin-Ok” starts out with an introduction by a leading Twilmish historian; the purpose of the introduction is first and foremost to explain what exactly a Twilmish it: a type of faerie folk who live in sandcastles and whose lives only last as long as the sandcastle lasts. The historian goes on to talk about the only Twilmish writing they have ever found, the journal of a Twilmish called Eelin-Ok. The rest of the story is the journal itself.

Because time moves differently for Twilmish, Eelin-Ok’s life contains as much substance as a human life, perhaps even more substance, as it does seem that because Eelin-Ok has so little time to exist corporally, he appreciates all the little things that we humans do not often have time to appreciate. He befriends a sand flea, battles rats, and even falls in love. Ford’s take on what it must be like to be so small, and to see the world from such small heights, is whimsical and fascinating. A beautiful story, perfectly paced

“Fairy Tales” by Eliza Victoria
Daily Science Fiction
Free read: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/fairy-tales/eliza-victoria/fairy-tales

“Fairy Tales” is a cyclical story. It begins with a man, Dante, who meets a wounded woman in a train station; the world of “Fairy Tales” is one in which people have discovered the faerie world, called Lambana, and the faerie folk, the Diwata, have been forced to assimilate into our society. Because the Diwata are forbidden from showing their wings in public, Dante is worried for the wounded woman, who says that she is not capable of folding her wings. He takes her home with him. In the second section, a woman named Pauline interviews a famous Diwata, Crystal, who has had her wings removed. This Diwata, it turns out, is a close friend of Dante’s. And Pauline is the woman in the train station, who had an ulterior motive for interviewing Crystal.

This story’s world is rich, and a wholly fresh take on the fairy lore, though it does use some older conventions; the fairies worship the moon and once possessed magical powers. I love how everything comes together for the unexpectedly hopeful ending.

“Clockwork Fairies” by Cat Rambo
Tor.com
Free read: http://www.tor.com/stories/2010/10/clockwork-fairies

“Clockwork Fairies” is set in Victorian times and narrated by a rather unlikeable male character named Claude. Claude is engaged to Desiree, a mulatto heiress with a love for invention. Her latest invention is a swarm of clockwork fairies, which Claude does not seem to care much for, thinking Desiree’s inventions nothing more than useless trinkets. Desiree’s father does not improve of the engagement, and so when another man arrives, one who is genuinely interested in Desiree’s hobby, the father urges Desiree to reconsider.

Claude’s constant misjudging of Desiree is obvious to the reader; he thinks that she is naïve and unintelligent, when really it is he who lacks imagination. It’s an interesting choice to portray the story through Claude’s eyes, one that takes the story up a notch from simple social commentary on men’s behavior in the Victorian era to a genuine attempt at understanding the motivations behind that behavior, as well as the behavior of each and every character in the story. Beautiful and resonant. 

“The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow
Free read: http://smallbeerpress.com/f

One of my all-time favorite stories by one of my all-time favorite writers, “The Faery Handbag” is about a teenage girl named Genevieve, her boyfriend, Jake, and her eccentric grandmother Zofia. Zofia likes to tell stories, always insisting that no one should believe a word that she says. One day Zofia tells Genevieve that her handbag contains a world of fairies as well as the whole country of Baldeziwurlekistan, where Zofia claims to be born – though she first claimed this in a game of Scrabble, attempting to use up all her letters.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that every fact should be called into question, for in the world of “The Faery Handbag,” characters often use magical explanations, it seems, to avoid grief. Or maybe the magic is real; the reader is never given a completely clear answer. But I think it’s the questions, anyhow, that make this story so unforgettable.

“Your Garnet Eyes” by Katherine Vaz
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow

Another story from The Faery Reel, which really is one of the best resources for short stories featuring fairies. Set in Brazil, “Your Garnet Eyes” is about a half-fairy woman in her 20’s who, having lost her fairy mother, has vowed never to fall in love. She does, however, want her father to fall in love again, and so she uses an oil to ensure that he does so. Like with all love potions, something goes wrong, and her father falls for her awful boss. The setting in this story is vivid, as is the language and imagery, full of vibrant colors and colorful characters.

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