Oct 21, 2008

Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist

Faerie Tale: A Novel of Terror and Fantasy tells the story of the Hastings family, who move from California to an old farm house in the state of New York, a property known as Earl King Hill. Gloria Hastings is Irish, as is Barney Doyle, their neighbour and friend Aggie’s handyman. But when strange things begin to happen in the woods behind the house, Gloria, unlike Barney, doesn’t immediately acknowledge the familiarity of what she’s seeing.

The story takes place between Midsummer and Halloween, and it’s of course no coincidence that these are two relevant dates for the Good People. Faerie Tale takes the stuff of old Irish myths to America, and despite the contemporary setting, this is old, old lore. In a manner similar to that of writers like Susanna Clarke, Raymond E. Feist explores the dark, terrifying side of these myths. These are no cute faeries. These are strange and dark beings, terrible and glamorous and with power over us – sexual power, psychological power, emotional power. The power to lure us and the power to destroy us. Take this short description, for example:
The youth’s laughter was high-pitched and musical. It was an alien sound, childlike and ancient, holding a hint of savage songs, primitive revelries and music-filled hot nights.
Faerie Tale contains references to the Seelie and Unseelie courts, to Puck and Wayland Smith, to changelings and the Wild Hunt, to Thomas the Rhymer and to the Berkshire White Horse. Like I said in one of my read-a-thon posts, the mood of this book reminded me a little of The Book of Lost Things, of American Gods and of the haunted woods descriptions in C.J. Cherryh’s Rusalka.

One of the most interesting things about Faerie Tale is the fact that in some ways it’s an exploration of the nature of fear. There were moments when the story really spooked me, and it wasn’t so much what was happening as the accurate way Raymond E. Feist portrays fear. It wasn’t what the characters were afraid of (though that’s interesting in its own right), but how they experienced fear. Of course, the book has some very dark moments, like Gabrielle Hastings’ encounter with a creature that almost rapes her, or eight-year-old Sean Hastings’ quest to save his twin brother Patrick.

I really enjoyed Faerie Tale, but unfortunately the ending was a bit of a let down. I think Feist overexplained things. This book is not a mystery, it’s not the kind of book where you have to have every detail explained and accounted for. But sadly in some ways this was just what was done. And it’s not just that the explanation of faeries as “energy beings” sounds a bit too new-age for my taste. It’s the fact that an explanation was given at all. Some things are meant to remain mysterious. Some questions are supposed to linger.

Still, all in all a very enjoyable read.

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This month's edition of the Bookworms Carnival is up at Becky's Book Reviews. The theme is Literary Gothic, and you can read lots of reviews of spooky books, both classic and modern. So if you haven't yet, go visit Becky!

21 comments:

  1. even with a disappointing ending I think I'd like to read it, anything with spooky fairies is just my cup of tea:D

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  2. I love it when authors use true lore to write their own stories. I just finished American Gods last week and wished I knew various folklores and mythologies better than I do. It didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the book though! I was delighted at the combination of humor and darkness that Gaiman used.

    I'm with Valentina ... I think I'd like to read Fairie Tale despite your disappointment with the ending.

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  3. I agree with you, Nymeth when you said "Some things are meant to remain mysterious. Some questions are supposed to linger." That's what makes a story so appealing.

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  4. I'm sorry to hear the ending was a little let down, but I'll check it out since it's about faeries and I don't think I've read anything by Raymond E. Feist.

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  5. I second Alice! Loved those two lines indeed. I haven't read any by Feist either but I'd like to try :)

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  6. Well that just sucks that the ending was a let down, but I still plan on reading this one for sure after your review! How could I not read something that you compare to American Gods and The Book of lost Things, lol.

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  7. "Some things are meant to remain mysterious."...How true, and that would definitely make for a big let-down. Still, all in all, it sounds like a wonderful book! Though I think I better remember not to read it when I'm alone in the house!

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  8. Wow. Even with the disappointing ending that you mentioned, that sounds really good. I really enjoy Raymond E. Feist's books, but have only read the Riftwar stuff. I'm interested to see how he handles stuff in our world - I think I'm going to have to check this one out.

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  9. you had me at susanna clark and book of lost things, but i really hate disappointing endings! i'll have a think about this one!

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  10. Valentina: It's definitely still worth reading despite the ending!

    Terri B: I love it too! I remember that after reading American Gods for the first time I spend a good few weeks reading nothing but mythology. It makes the stories even richer, doesn't it?

    Alice: I love it when authors manage to satisfy you and leave you wanting more at the same time.

    Melody: This was my first book by him, and I liked it enough to want to try another.

    Lightheaded: I think you're likely to enjoy this one.

    Chris: I hope you enjoy it! The book had such a great atmosphere.

    Debi: Yes, it was still really, really good! But definitely not one to read alone late at night :P

    Court: I think the way he combine fantastic elements with an everyday setting was perfect. I hope you enjoy it!

    Mariel, I really think it's worth it regardless. And the ending might work for you, it just didn't for me. Well, part of it didn't...I actually liked what he did in the epilogue.

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  11. I read this years ago, and remember enjoying it; I thought at the time it was better than the Riftwar Saga (way back, when it was still only three books). I don't remember the ending, though. I think it's time to dig it out of the bookshelves ...

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  12. I love the cover, and after reading "The Blue Girl" I have a renewed interest in fairies... Sounds like fun, I will keep my eye out for it.

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  13. Sorry you didn't like the ending. :(

    I've never read a book about fairies...at least not that I can remember. Sounds interesting, though, especially what you said about "exploring the nature of fear."

    Great review!

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  14. Wonderful review, I really enjoy reading Fey-related stories, but I think I most enjoy the ones that paint the darker side of the Fey. I am especially interested in the Seelie/Unseelie but other than the Merry Gentry (unsure of LKH's accuracy) series I don't know of any other books featuring them.

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  15. Maree: I haven't read any of the books in the Riftwar Saga, but after this I'm more than willing to try some more Feist :)

    Daphne, I hope you enjoy it if and when you get to it. And I really want to read The Blue Girl!

    Anna: I like books about fairies that are faithful to the original folklore rather than to the cute and harmless versions we know today. This is definitely one of them!

    Book Zombie: Yes, same here! From what I hear the Seelie and Unseelie Courts are also in Holly Black's Tithe series...I haven't read it yet, but I plan to.

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  16. It's too bad the ending didn't live up to the rest of the novel. I do enjoy Raymond Feist's writing and will probably read this one down the road. Thanks for a great review, Nymeth!

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  17. Literary Feline: I need to check out some of his other novels. I hope you enjoy Faerie Tale!

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  18. See now I am conflicted. You love this but Alex hated THe Magician. May see if the library has it before committing to it.

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  19. I have this book and I actually started it tonight. I want to read the other book you suggested, but my bookstore didn't have it! :( So, I decided to try this one even though you were a bit disappointed with it. I will have to see how things go, I guess!

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  20. I read this way back in junior high school when it came out in the mid 80's I believe. I still remember to this day being soooo creeped out by it. I read it all in two days just because I was so swept up in it and like you even though I can't remember the specifics of the ending anymore I do read it being a let down. Overall I still enjoyed being creeped out by the book. Great review!

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  21. i just finsihed the book... yes detail very full of content.and i enjoyed the book alot. i found that his theory on the "other relm" was quite wat it should be.. some of the characters and plots didnt add up sometimes, but overall i found myself reading it often enough to keep me turning the pages.

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