Sunday, September 10, 2023

Five books with devilishly dangerous fairy deals

Trip Galey was born in the United States but has now lived in the United Kingdom for over half a decade. He has a Masters from the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon and a doctorate in Creative Writing, and is a lecturer on the subject in Cambridge, with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy. He has had short stories and articles published in numerous places, such as a multi-award-nominated queer SFF anthology from Neon Hemlock Press, and his first interactive novel came out in 2021 from Choice of Games. He lives in London with his partner.

Galey's new novel is A Market of Dreams and Destiny.

At he tagged five "favourite modern fantasies prominently featuring fairy bargains of one kind or another," including:
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke — Featuring The Gentleman with Thistle-Down Hair

In Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Faerie has several kingdoms that touch upon the mortal world, most notably through the presence of The Gentleman with Thistle-Down Hair, who is ruler over a number of them. It is Mr. Norrell who first summons and then strikes a deal with the Gentleman, an act that has repercussions throughout the novel.

This bargain is devilishly difficult to deal with for multiple reasons. Firstly, the Gentleman collects what he is owed in an unexpected manner (though when dealing with the Fair Folk you would be wise to expect this sort of unexpected complication). Secondly, in attempting to defend his due, the Gentleman meddles widely and deep in the affairs of mortals, causing further trouble for our titular characters.

Even if you think the price is something simple, something obvious, be wary! It very well might not be exactly what you expect. Clarke uses the idea to stunning effect here, and it’s one of the reasons I adore the book so much. So be warned: when you strike a fairy bargain consider carefully the costs, and what myriad forms those costs might take.
Read about another entry on the list.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is among Gita Trelease's five best intrusive fantasy books, Emily Temple's top ten contemporary Dickensian novels, April Genevieve Tucholke's top five books with elements that echo Norse myth , and D.D. Everest's top ten secret libraries.

--Marshal Zeringue