The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

Title: The King of Elfland’s Daughter
Author: Lord Dunsany
Date Added: June 16, 2016
Date Started: May 16, 2018
Date Finished: June 15, 2018
Genre: Classic, Fantasy/High Fantasy, Fairy Tale

The King of Elfland's Daughter coverPages: 203
Publication Date: 1924
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Media: eBook/Kindle


The poetic style and sweeping grandeur of The King of Elfland’s Daughter has made it one of the most beloved fantasy novels of our time, a masterpiece that influenced some of the greatest contemporary fantasists. The heartbreaking story of a marriage between a mortal man and an elf princess is a masterful tapestry of the fairy tale following the “happily ever after.”


Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany was considered one of the greatest writers in the English speaking world during the 1910’s.  More than 90 of his works were published in his lifetime, but today he’s best known for The King of Elfland’s Daughter, a novel that explores life after the “happily ever after.”

The lord of Erl is told by a parliament of his people that they want to be ruled by a magic lord so that their land could go down in history, so the lord sends his son Alveric to fetch the titular fairy princess, Lirazel, who goes with him willingly.  As time passes slower in in the fey lands than they do in the real world, Alveric returns many years later to discover he has inherited the lordship after his father’s death.  Alveric and Lirazel have a son, Orion, and Lirazel tries to adapt to a mundane life, while still keeping some of her fae traditions.  Alveric; however, discourages this and admonishes her for her “un-Christian” ways.  He tries to make her less fae and more like the court ladies, but she is what she is.  Eventually, Lirazel uses the rune her father gave her, returning to him in Elfland.  Lovesick Alveric goes after her, leaving their son to be raised by his witch nursemaid.  Abandoning his kingdom for the hopeless quest, Alveric is eventually betrayed by his own men who hold him hostage and keep him from Elfland out of their own jealousy.  Meanwhile, Lirazel becomes lonesome for her mortal husband and son, and, seeing she’s unhappy, the king of Elfland uses up the rest of his runes to engulf the land of Erl, transforming it into a part of Elfland and bringing about half the wishes of the old men who wanted Erl to have a magic lord, but as the land passed out of the human history due to this act, no one in the mundane world would ever remember it or know.

This was…interesting, oddly interesting though the writing was so dry and plodding (a common “complaint” of classics).  You are still drawn into how it all will end.  Will Alveric find Elfland?  Will Orion heed the call of its horns?  Will Lirazel return of her own accord?  The story is a literal classic “Be careful what you wish for” tale with the elders of Erl wishing for a magic lord so that Erl would be remembered for its greatness, but in obtaining their desire, they lost what they hoped to gain from it.  Erl passed out of all living memory in its absorption by Elfland.  To this end, as well, all of the years of Alveric’s searching are washed away as Elfland finds him instead of the inverse.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter was incredibly hard to read at times.  If Soulless was endowed with dry humor, this novel was just dry.  The text functions more as poetry in the language used, as well as in how it repeats.  Dunsany frequently mentions “the fields we know” and “the fields we don’t know” to reference earth and Elfland respectively.  It’s not annoying, but the prose has a winding way about it that can be hard to follow if you’re not paying attention.  The value of this novel comes more from the foundation it laid in showing the modern subversion “happily ever after” is older than I thought.  The happy ending occurs in the first two chapters where the rest of the book is dedicated to the aftermath.  It’s the difference between conquering a kingdom and ruling one, which is not my most feminist metaphor, but it serves to show how enamoring a princess isn’t the same as maintaining a relationship.  Since this was published in 1924, over a decade before Disney’s release of Snow White (1938), Elfland proves that subversion of fairy tale tropes predates the mouse’s co-opting of them.

This is worth exploring for the sake of education, research, or posterity, but I wouldn’t recommend it to the casual reader.

4 stars.

Soulless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #1)

Title: Soulless
Series Title: Parasol Protectorate
Author: Gail Carriger
Date Added: October 26, 2016
Date Started: April 26, 2018
Date Finished: June 1, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural/Paranormal, Paranormal Romance

Soulless by Gail Carriger coverPages: 357
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
Media: Paperback (Library)


Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


Note: I borrowed this from the library with the thought it was a graphic novel/manga.  While there is a manga (which I also want to read after I finish the series), I didn’t realize it was based on the book, and that is what I wound up getting.

Nothing makes me happier than when a novel I’m dicey on becomes an utter delight.  I considered DNFing this because of the, how should I say it, Victorian bigotry that’s presented more as Alexia’s navigation through it rather than her own personal fixation.  She has to be concerned with her spinster status, huge nose, and darker skin (courtesy of her Italian father) because everyone, including and especially her mother and half-sisters, judge her for it.

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The Shadow Soul by Kaitlyn Davis (A Dance of Dragons #1) (DNF)

Title: The Shadow Soul
Series Title: A Dance of Dragons
Author: Kaitlyn Davis
Date Added: June 15, 2016
Date Started: May 14, 2018
Date DNF: May 15, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult (YA), Paranormal

The Shadow Soul coverPages: 292
Publication Date: January 22, 2014
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Media: eBook/Kindle


When Jinji’s home is destroyed, she is left with nowhere to run and no one to run to–until she meets Rhen, a prince chasing rumors that foreign enemies have landed on his shores. Masquerading as a boy, Jinji joins Rhen with vengeance in her heart. But traveling together doesn’t mean trusting one another, and both are keeping a deep secret–magic. Jinji can weave the elements to create master illusions and Rhen can pull burning flames into his flesh.

But while they struggle to hide the truth, a shadow lurks in the night. An ancient evil has reawakened, and unbeknownst to them, these two unlikely companions hold the key to its defeat. Because their meeting was not coincidence–it was fate. And their story has played out before, in a long forgotten time, an age of myth that is about to be reborn…


This is one of those books that initially seems like I’d tear through with alacrity based on the blurb, but I was extremely meh about the opening.  It’s your typical destroyed people/vengeance fare, but I didn’t garner much deep emotion from it because I didn’t invest much in the characters due to that cataclysm being present in the blurb.  Even so I liked what the author was setting up with Jinji’s story arc, an indigenous young woman whose home and culture is destroyed.  I was here for that revenge story, but then…the male character is introduced.

Rhen is unlikable for a variety of reasons.  He’s arrogant as fuck with an unearned know-it-all attitude.  Davis tells us how smart he is through his own ruminations, which may be her way of disputing it, but it just comes off as pompous.  I could forgive this slight, but I was pretty much done when he revealed he might be an unabashed rapist per the very act that introduces him.

He did however feel slightly uneasy.  It really wasn’t the girl’s fault that he had slipped into her room just before dawn.

I won’t say it’s blatant, but it gave me an icky feeling.  Pairing that with a lukewarm beginning sealed the deal.  If Rhen had been interesting or reputable, I might have continued, but I had no interest in seeing a fairly decent character like Jinji paired with what can’t even be considered a mediocre man.  Maybe he matures; maybe she “fixes” him (ugh), but she deserves better.

The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente (A Dirge for Prester John #1)

Title: The Habitation of the Blessed
Series Title: A Dirge for Prester John
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Date Added: September 28, 2012
Date Started: March 26, 2018
Date Finished: May 23, 2018
Reading Duration: 58 days
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Christian Mythos

The Habitation of the Blessed coverPages: 269
Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Media: Paperback


This is the story of a place that never was: the kingdom of Prester John, the utopia described by an anonymous, twelfth-century document which captured the imagination of the medieval world and drove hundreds of lost souls to seek out its secrets, inspiring explorers, missionaries, and kings for centuries. But what if it were all true? What if there was such a place, and a poor, broken priest once stumbled past its borders, discovering, not a Christian paradise, but a country where everything is possible, immortality is easily had, and the Western world is nothing but a dim and distant dream?

Brother Hiob of Luzerne, on missionary work in the Himalayan wilderness on the eve of the eighteenth century, discovers a village guarding a miraculous tree whose branches sprout books instead of fruit. These strange books chronicle the history of the kingdom of Prester John, and Hiob becomes obsessed with the tales they tell. The Habitation of the Blessed recounts the fragmented narratives found within these living volumes, revealing the life of a priest named John, and his rise to power in this country of impossible richness. John’s tale weaves together with the confessions of his wife Hagia, a blemmye–a headless creature who carried her face on her chest–as well as the tender, jeweled nursery stories of Imtithal, nanny to the royal family.


They think you childish, that you insist your god looks just like you.  That is how a baby thinks, because she has only her parents to protect her, so all the power in the universe bears her own face.

Catherynne M. Valente is mostly a hit with me, and though I’ve had issues getting into a few of her novels before, I was determined to give The Habitation of the Blessed another try.  Not only did I love the language and mytho-religious basis of it, but the following book The Folded World seemed even more intriguing.  Of course there’s no rule that says you must read all the books in a series; I just don’t like entering a narrative in the middle unless, of course, it’s in media res.  The second attempt was more fruitful, and my inabilities prior might have been due to my own concentration issues.  The beginning is a bit slow, but it doesn’t last for long.

The Habitation of the Blessed exists as a series of vignettes tied together and hinged on a butterfly’s wings.  Using the framing device of Brother Hiob searching for Prester John who went abroad to teach Christianity, but found himself the recipient of an immortal faith.  This style of story within story is very similar to Valente’s other series The Orphan’s Talesthough Habitation doesn’t go quite as Inception as the fore mentioned.  It also involves multiple story tellers as opposed to just one.

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Restless Bones on Crystal Lake by B. Batiste (Moon Investigations #2)

Moon Investigations

<–Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake

Title: Restless Bones on Crystal Lake
Series Title: Moon Investigations
Author: B. Batiste
Date Added: March 26, 2018
Date Started: May 1, 2018
Date Finished: May 12, 2018
Reading Duration: 11 days
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Mystery

Restless Bones on Crystal Lake coverPages: 170
Publication Date: March 28, 2018
Publisher: Amazon
Media: eBook/Kindle


A soggy decrepit ghost visits Hazel. And with her new ghostly admirer comes a new case and a new hidden danger.

Lola is wanted for the murder of Royce Habernath, a pirate treasure hunter whom she has fought with many times over a treasure map. In their search for the truth, Hazel, Syn and Blossom struggle with the realization, Lola is the mistress of secrets and killing someone is definitely within her wheelhouse. But when it becomes clear that Lola was framed it becomes a race to find the real murderer before Lola is sent to a prison most don’t return from. At least not whole.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Hazel may have a hidden power a queen is searching for. Whether Hazel truly has it or not the Blood Queen and her minions now know she is on Crystal Lake. And if they find Hazel, her death is certain.


Lola is one of the most interesting characters in the Moon Investigation series.  Often side characters are just that: ones on the side, but Miss Batiste puts a great deal of effort into making all of hers intriguing.  Unsurprisingly, Lola didn’t become a bad ass on a whim.  She was forged in fire and pain with pirate ancestors who became embroiled in more than what they bargained for.

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The Sandman, Vol. 01: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman (The Sandman #1) (DNF)

Title: The Sandman, Vol. 01: Preludes & Nocturnes
Series Title: The Sandman
Author: Neil Gaiman
Artists: Various
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: April 4, 2018
Date DNF: April 15, 2018
Reading Duration: 9 days
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Supernatural, Horror, Mythology

The Sandman: Preludes & NocturnesPages: 240
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 1989
Media: Paperback (Library)


New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.


I’d been wanting to read this for years, and since many of my friends love Neil Gaiman, it’s been recommended to me a number of times.  In theory the graphic novel has everything I love: mythology re-workings, old gods, darkness, horror, death rituals, releasing something ancient and seemingly evil, and sleeping all the time.  You know…my typical Saturday.  I actually couldn’t get into Gaiman’s writing when I first attempted either American Gods or Neverwhere years ago, but I really liked Stardust and absolutely loved The Ocean at the End of the Lanefinding after I read those, I was able to stomach AG more easily.  I think I just needed to get used to his style.  There’s also a novel illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano, who was the concept artist for Final Fantasy.

Sandman illustrated by AmanoI think it was Amano more than anything that encouraged me to seek this series out, and I erroneously believed the artist illustrated the entirety of Sandman.  Had that been the case, I probably would’ve finished not only the first one, but read them all, despite my issues with the narrative.

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The Vagrant by Peter Newman (The Vagrant #1)

Title: The Vagrant
Series Title: The Vagrant
Author: Peter Newman
Date Added: March 20, 2017
Date Started: December 30, 2017
Date Finished: March 21, 2018
Reading Duration: 80 days
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The VagrantPages: 400
Publication Date: April 23, 2016
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Media: Paperback


The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.


This was a tough one to review.  I noted that back when I finished it and I still feel the same way.  The novel has both issues and merits, and it’s not a straightforward story, which is not only due to the fact the main character never speaks.  The number of enemies/villains also complicates things.  There’s the Usurper, the Uncivil, the first, and the commander among others.  They’re all part of the tainted essence that made the world the broken place it is now, but it was very hard to keep track of them (the Hammer was my favorite for some obvious reasons).

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