Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Faerie Book by Samantha Gray

A book about fairies should have beautiful pictures and beautiful words, just like The Faerie Book, by Samantha Gray.

It is a gentle look at the world of faerie in fiction, fancy and sometimes fact, exploring they ways people have depicted faeries in tales old and new and in different parts of the world. It covers accounts of faerie encounters, ways to encourage them into your life and methods of warding off the troublesome kind.

Faeries can take on different aspects at different times of the year, and those you might meet on Halloween, next week, are likely to be scary. The Faerie Book says on October 31 the spirits of those who have passed away come to dance with the fairies. Mortals can sometimes see this dance of the dead, for it is a time of the year when the veils between the worlds are thin.

One story tells of a woman coming home late one night at the end of October. She sat down to take a rest, and a young man approached her.

He said: "If you stay here, you will see the most beautiful dancing."

She looked at him, and saw that the young man reminded her of her sweetheart, who had died some years before.

"Why are you here?" she asked him.

"Wait and you will see," he replied.

She looked up and saw a procession of faeries dancing down the road, playing the most delightful music. Among them, dancing in rapture, were all the dead people she could remember.

"Now you must either run away, or join them," said the spirit of her lover, for that is what he was. But the woman tarried too long, undecided, and the faeries took her hands and she danced away with them to faeryland, leaving behind her body; cold and dead.

As well as being the run-up to Halloween, when the shops are full of costumes and treats for the one night of the year when anyone can play at being ghosts and witches, the stores are also being stocked with gift ideas for the festive season. The Faerie Book falls into the latter category, but it would make a lovely present for any girl - young or not-so-young - who is fascinated by faeries. With 160 pages of legends and lore about these mysterious creatures, it is more than just a little book of faerie-dust.

The Faerie Book by Samantha Gray is published by Cico Books and costs £12.99 in hardback. www.cicobooks.co.uk