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Laurion Studio: Books of Faeries

So You Want to Learn More about Faeries?

There are literally thousands of books, both very old and very new, that deal with faeries and other fantastical creatures. The following selections represent only some of my personal favorites among this bewildering treasure trove of literature. My selection criteria are unabashedly eclectic: some of these books stand out as masterpieces that have secured a firm place in the canon of fantasy literature, others are just good reads, and in some cases they are merely mediocre stories that, while deeply flawed in many regards, have nonetheless achieved something of creative note in their treatment of the faerie genre.

Note: If you're a fan of faerie fiction, then by all means bookmark this page and check back from time to time. I will continue to update this list as I read new, noteworthy books!


  1. Traditional Texts that Have Defined, in Large Part, the Faerie Tale
  2. Some of My Favorite Modern Faerie Tales

Traditional Texts that Have Defined, in Large Part, the Faerie Tale

Chrétien de Troyes. Arthurian Romances. Trans. D.D.R. Owen. London: J.M. Dent, 1993.

Gantz, Jeffrey. Early Irish Myths and Sagas. London: Penguin Books, 1981. This is a nice, eclectic selection, containing a sample of both the mythological tales of the Tuatha de Danann, and the historic tales of early Medieval Ireland.

The Heliand: The Saxon Gospel. Trans. G. Ronald Murphy, SJ. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1992. Okay, you have to read this book! It is a most amazing literary artifact of the early Middle Ages: a retelling of the Gospel story in the language and setting of heroic Germanic warriors, like Beowulf or Sigurd!

Marie de France. The Lais of Marie de France. Trans. Robert Hanning and Joan Ferrante. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1978.

The Mabinogi, and Other Welsh Tales. Trans and Ed. Patrick K. Ford. Berkeley: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1977.

Malory, Thomas. Le Morte d’Arthur. In Malory: Works. Ed. Eugene Vinaver. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Poetic Edda. Trans. Lee M. Hollander. Austin. Univ. of Texas Press, 1962.

The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. Trans. Jesse L. Byock. Berkeley. Univ. of Calif. Press, 1990.

Sturluson, Snorri. The Prose Edda: Tales from Norse Mythology. Trans. Jean I. Young. Berkeley. Univ. of Calif. Press, 1954.

Yeats, W.B. Irish Fairy and Folk Tales. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993.

Some of My Favorite Modern Faerie Tales

A.E. (George W. Russell). The Avatars. New York: Macmillan, 1933. An interesting futurist fantasy, deeply imbued with Theosophical ideas, about semi-divine beings who descend among men.

Aamodt, Donald. A Name to Conjure With. New York. Avon, 1989. An otherwise typical fantasy yarn, what sets this book apart is the novel reversal of the trope of wizards summoning demonic familiar spirits; here, an average human is summoned as the familiar of an otherworldly wizard, and discovers that he indeed has some remarkable powers.

Abbott, Edwin A. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. New York. Signet, 1984. First published in 1884, this satirical little story of Euclidian life-forms is the ultimate fairy tale for math geeks!

Asimov, Issac, ed. Faeries. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2000. An excellent collection of modern short stories about the Fair Folk.

Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1950. First published in 1911 under the title Peter and Wendy, this classic more or less defined the modern fairy tale for several generations.

Bishop, Michael. Who Made Stevie Crye? Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1984.

Black, Holly. Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. New York: Simon Pulse, 2004. Technically YA fiction, this grunge-elf novel is most noteworthy for the sheer number of gleeful role-reversals and character-type inversions. For that, I loved it!

Bull, Emma. War for the Oaks. New York: Ace Books, 1987. This marvelous novel, which has done a great deal to define the grunge-elf genre, will no doubt emerge as one of the fantasy classics of the late-20th century.

Chesterton, G.K. The Man Who was Thursday. London: Penguin Books, 1937, 1986. First published in 1908, this outrageously funny fantasy about anarchists and detectives introduces us to the startling vision of the Christian God as a divine, Puck-like trickster. Richer still ... Chesterton went on to become one of the great Catholic apologists of his generation, and a damned good mystery writer to boot!

Cooper, Louise. The Book of Paradox. New York. Dell, 1973. This book may be hard to find, but it is worth the search. While at first blush the tale seems to be a run-of-the-mill sword and sorcery quest to avenge a fallen lover, it quickly rises above this to the level of a compelling esoteric parable by combining a subtle understanding of the Tarot with a psychedelic quest for self-knowledge and transcendence.

deCampe, L. Sprague, and Fletcher Pratt. The Compleat Enchanter: The Misadventures of Harold Shea. Garden City. Doubleday, 1975. A silly, immensely fun yarn about a bored academic who learns to go on fairy-tale adventures among the Old Norse gods, and then in the world of Spencer’s Faerie Queene.

Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story. Trans. Ralph Manheim. New York: Doubleday, 1983. This is both a superb fantasy story, and a fascinating exercise in metafiction!

Feist, Raymond E. Faerie Tale. NewYork: Doubleday, 1988.

Ford, Theodosia. Christmas Fairies. Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1872. A sickly sweet but somewhat atypical collection of Victorian faerie tales bestowed with an explicit Christian message.

Fowles, John. Mantissa. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1982. A superb erotic-comedy about muses in the modern era.

Froud, Brian, and Alan Lee. Faeries. New York. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2002. Well, this book is pretty much responsible for many of the modern stereotypes about faeries. Why? Because it is such an awesome book of lovely and imaginatively interpreted pictures of the denizens of the faerie otherworlds!

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods. New York: HarperTorch, 2002. What would the old-world gods be like if they immigrated to America with their followers? This book is a fun read, and is replete with typical examples of Gaiman’s imaginative touch, such as the ever-supportive zombie wife.

Gaiman, Neil. Stardust. New York. Harper Collins, 1999. This lovely, bittersweet little book is a very modern telling of the traditional fairy-tale archetype of a young man going on an otherworldly quest for true love.

Hetley, James A. The Summer Country. New York: Ace Books, 2002. Typical grunge-elf fare, with the difference that faeries are interpreted as survivors of a non-human, Neanderthal-like race of hominids.

Holt, Tom. Little People. London. Orbit, 2002. This funny, twisted tale of surly elves enslaved by a greedy capitalist turns just about every cliché of fairy-lore on its head!

MacDonald, George. Lilith. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000. First published in 1895, this is one of my all-time favorite fairy tales.

MacDonald, George. Phantastes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000. First published in 1858, this marvelous book represents a very subtle, intelligent Christianization of the classical fairy-tale motif of the young hero going on a quest of initiation into an otherworld filled with tree spirits, knights in shining armor, ogresses, and beautiful fairy palaces! MacDonald’s work had an enormous impact on both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Powers, Tim. The Drawing of the Dark. New York: Ballantine, 1979. Merlin brews really good beer, and King Arthur comes back to fight the Ottoman Turks. It's really much better than it sounds! I loved this book!

Pratchett, Terry. Lords and Ladies: A Novel of Discworld. New York: HarperTorch, 2000. A superbly written, fun yarn about elves as malicious, predatory, cat-like creatures.

Turttledove, Harry. Thessalonica. New York: Baen, 1997. A wonderful, fun tale of centaurs and an unforgettable satyr cooperating with Christian priests during the age of Barbarian invasions.

Wood, Wallace. The Wizard King. New Haven, CT: Wallace Wood, 1978. This is a wonderful comic (or graphic novel) about a little elf who goes on a big adventure, done in a sword-and-sorcery style suitable for adults by one of the great pioneers in comics. This volume was intended to be the first of a trilogy, but sadly the project was not finished owing to the death of the artist.

Whew! That was quite a list! I'm really impressed that you made it this far! So let me ask a fellow bibliophile, do YOU know of any other really good, faerie themed novels that I might enjoy? If so, please e-mail me the title!