Fairy Folklore

By Alyssa Nicole

May finally approaches, the golden days are slow and sweet like dripping honey. My husband and I, like many people, are preparing our yard for the warmer weeks ahead. The most recent addition to our little piece of the world is a fairy garden. It is a quaint little village on the path leading to our porch, with a tiny toadstool, a miniature moss-enrobed bench, a graceful fairy, a portly gnome and a little garden door that looks as though it’s a liminal space between our world and the realm of the fae. Naturally, this little project has intrigued me to check out books on fairies in the literary world.

For those interested in etymology, the word “fairy” is derived from “fata” in Latin, translating to goddess of fate. In Old French, “faerie” means enchantment. Fairies are often portrayed as mischievous, clever, whimsical, and sometimes shy. Upon pouring over stories featuring some of the most famous fairies born from ink and paper, I have discovered a wide variety of personalities that both corroborate and deviate from the fairy archetype.

Tinkerbell is Peter Pan’s most loyal companion and perhaps the most-well known literary fairy to young and old. She was born, like all fairies in this story, from a baby’s first laugh. As wholesome as this sounds, Tinkerbell is no angel. She is quite conceited, jealous and has a tremendous temper that far exceeds her petite frame. It is said that fairies, or at least fairies in J.M Barrie’s universe, are so small they can only be one thing at a time. So when Tinkerbell is bad, she is all bad with no room for goodness and vis versa. She often uses her cunning and cleverness to try to get rid of Wendy for good, wanting no female getting in the way of her Peter Pan.

Puck, the mischievous mis-matchmaker from Midsummer Night’s Dream, is suitably named. For the word puckish is defined as “playful, especially in a mischievous way.” He lives up to his moniker by ensorcelling two men to fall in love with the same woman, wreaking havoc amidst the couples. Titania, the fairy queen, is fierce and intransigent, refusing to submit to her husband’s demands for her to give up her changeling child. It is mischievous Puck, once again, who causes trouble when he brews up a concoction that makes Titania fall in love with a donkey. A cruel, albeit temporary, punishment devised by her husband. Titania is concerned about the impact their quarrels are having on the environment, showing solicitude for the world around them.

In Susanna Clarke’s Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell, a nameless fairy known as “The Gentlemen with The Thistledown Hair” is perhaps the most wicked of the fairies on this list, tricking a man bargaining for his wife’s resurrection after her death. He agrees to let her husband keep her for half of her life and claims that he will get the other half. The catch is that he splits her life in such a way that she is constantly caught between two worlds: the mortal realm and the fairy realm. There are times when her body is there, but her soul is trapped in the Otherworld.

The fairies in at least some of the classic fairytales tend to be more magnanimous, granters of wishes and dreams. The fairy godmother in Cinderella is not your typical tiny sprite. She is a being of benevolence and kindness rather than trickery and impishness. Six of the seven fairies in Sleeping Beauty gift the infant Princess Aurora with intangible yet wonderful presents: that she would be the loveliest person in the world, cleverness of an angel, grace in all she did, she would dance to perfection; sing like a nightingale and would play beautiful music on all kinds of instruments. The seventh, of course, is one of the most famous female villains of all time and is a bitter and vengeful fairy who curses the young princess to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into an eternal slumber.

Greek mythology, nymphs are very similar to fairies. They have more human-like qualities and are further broken down into the natural realm in which they dwell. These include, but are not at all limited

to dryads (tree nymphs), naiads (fresh water nymphs) anthousai (flower nymphs) aurai (breeze nymphs) and asteria (nymphs who dance among the stars.) A famous nymph from Greek mythology, is Oenone. She was a naiad and jilted wife of Paris. Her mortal husband leaves her for a woman if immortal beauty, the famous Helen of Troy. In Margaret George’s retelling of the story, Oenone rejects Helen’s pleas to heal Paris after he is fatally wounded in the Trojan War.

Oddly, fairies do not play an important role in the very popular fantasy series, Harry Potter. Here are loosely referenced as being very vain creatures, humanlike with insect wings. They often allow humans to use them as decorations. Pixies, however, make an appearance in the Chamber of Secrets book. They are blue with large ears and beady eyes, mischief-makers of prodigious strength.

Fairy lore is varied and fascinating. If you are interested in learning more about the various types of fairies and their magical symbolism, I highly recommend “Fairy Magick” by Aurora Kane. She delves into various types of fairies, lore, and ways to immerse yourself in the mystical realm of these fantastical creatures.

“All you need is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust!” -Peter Pan

Coronation Day Reads

Break out the tea and crumpets, tomorrow is the (long-awaited) coronation of King Charles III. Concerts, meals, and ceremonies will mark this day as Britain welcomes their next monarch. Charles has waited longer than any other monarch to ascend the throne, and at the age of 74, he is finally set to rule.

If you’re an anglophile or simply a reader who loves a theme, these books explore the royal family and their lifestyles.


Prince Charles by Sally Bedell Smith

Prince Charles brings to life the real man, with all of his ambitions, insecurities, and convictions. It begins with his lonely childhood, in which he struggled to live up to his father’s expectations and sought companionship from the Queen Mother and his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten. It follows him through difficult years at school, his early love affairs, his intellectual quests, his entrepreneurial pursuits, and his intense search for spiritual meaning. It tells of the tragedy of his marriage to Diana; his eventual reunion with his true love, Camilla; and his relationships with William, Kate, Harry, and his grandchildren.

HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes

Veteran style journalist Elizabeth Holmes expands her popular Instagram series, So Many Thoughts, into a nuanced look at the fashion and branding of the four most influential members of the British Royal Family: Queen Elizabeth II; Diana, Princess of Wales; Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge; and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex.

Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden by Claire Masset

Hidden behind the high walls surrounding Buckingham Palace is one of London’s most beautiful gardens, the venue for a busy calendar of royal events, including the much-loved tradition of The Queen’s Garden Party.

Award-winning photographer John Campbell has spent a year taking pictures of that garden for this richly illustrated book, revealing the changes that occur through the seasons, as massed bulbs give way to the roses of high summer and the turning trees of autumn. The text, by gardening writer Claire Masset, follows a year in the life of the royal garden, and is full of insights and practical tips from the Head Gardener, Mark Lane.

The Queen: A Life in Pictures by Victoria A Murphy

Since she succeeded to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has become respected, celebrated, and beloved around the world. This stunning collection of powerful images illustrates her storied reign in all its glory.

More than 300 extraordinary photographs, along with insightful commentary by the royal journalist Victoria Murphy, showcase the significant, historic, and intimate moments throughout the Queen’s life, first as a young princess and then as the longest-reigning British monarch.

Spare by Prince Harry

It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow–and horror. As Princess Diana was laid to rest, billions wondered what Prince William and Prince Harry must be thinking and feeling–and how their lives would play out from that point on.

For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. A landmark publication, Spare is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.

Happy reading!


Remembering the Kent State Massacre

On April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced that the United States military would invade Cambodia, furthering their involvement in the Vietnam War. 

On May 1, over 500 students gathered on an outdoor common area in the center of campus to demonstrate against President Nixon’s announcement. At this demonstration, a rally was planned for May 4, to continue the protest. During the next few days, students kept up the demonstrations, and after Kent Mayor LeRoy Satrom declared a state of emergency, the Ohio National Guard were called on May 2.  

On May 3, Governor Rhodes said they were going to “eradicate the problem” and that the protestors were “the worst type of people that we harbor in America” (Kent State). Another rally took place that evening, with Guardsmen tear gassing participants in order to get them to disperse. A curfew was enforced, and several students were bayoneted by Guardsmen. 

On May 4, the originally planned protest took place as scheduled. The University tried to advertise it had been cancelled, but students (and some non-students as well) gathered anyway, even when tear gas was used to get them to disperse. At 12:24 PM, Guardsmen began firing at the protestors for approximately 13 seconds, killing four students—Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer—and injuring nine students— Joseph Lewis, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Alan Canfora, Dean Kahler, Douglas Wrentmore, James Russell, Robert Stamps, and Donald MacKenzie. The University President closed the school and remained closed for six weeks.  

This is an incredibly brief overview of the Kent State shootings and I highly recommend the Kent State University’s Digital Archives for oral histories, timelines, newspaper articles, interviews, and more. Below are a few titles available through the library for more information: 

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf 

Kent State/May 4: Echoes through a Decade by Scott L. Bills 

13 Seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings by Philip Caputo 

Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State by Joe Eszterhas 

67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence by Howard B. Means 

Kent State: What Happened and Why by James A. Michener 

To Heal Kent State: A Memorial Meditation by Kim Sorvig 

Kent State by Deborah Wiles 


New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

In this week’s special picks there are new exciting detective, mystery, suspense, and many more genres for you to choose from! Enjoy!

The 23rd Midnight

When an obsessed maniac turns serial killer Evan Burke’s true-crime story into a playbook, adding some of his own gruesome touches, Detective Lindsay Boxer, who put Burke in jail, tracks this elusive suspect, who is determined to put an end to the Murder Club permanently.

The Wedding Planner

Signing up for several lavish affairs, in addition to her mother’s next marriage and her twin sister’s modest ceremony, wildly successful wedding planner Faith Ferguson grapples with private quarrels, unplanned pregnancies, family scandals, dark secrets and almost cancelled ceremonies, proving that there is more than one path to happily ever after.

The Bride Wore White

When she is kidnapped, drugged and wakes up in a bloodstained wedding dress next to a dead man, psychic Prudence Ryland, framed for murder, knows who the real killer is and finds an unexpected ally in Jack Wingate, a crime boss’s associate, who is the only one who believes her.

All the Days of Summer

A divorced empty-nester moves into a cottage on Nantucket and is irritated when her adult son arrives with his serious girlfriend and the two women must learn to overcome their differences to achieve the future they want.

The Half Moon

Longtime bartender Malcolm Gephardt realizes his dream of owning a bar, while his wife Jess, a lawyer struggling with fertility issues, wonders how to reshape her life, in a novel told over the course of one tumultuous week, laying bare the complexities of marriage, family, longing and desire.

In desperate need of a lifeline, 32-year-old Fern Brookbanks finds it in the form of Will Baxter, who rescued her nine years ago, and, believing he is hiding something, but knowing he’s the only one who understands what she’s going through, wonders if she can do the same for him.

The Ferryman

A ferryman, gently shepherding people through the retirement process and, when necessary, enforcing it Proctor Bennet, of the Department of Social Contracts, receives a disturbing and cryptic message from his father, while The Support Staff, who keep Prospera running, organize a revolution that causes Proctor to question everything he once believed.


New Historical Fiction

The Thread Collectors

Shaunna J. Edwards & Alyson Richman

In 1863, Stella, a black woman living in New Orleans, must say goodbye to William as he leaves to join the Union army. William is an enslaved flutist which saves him from the battlefield most of the time. Stella and William want to marry but cannot since Stella is owned by a white landowner who takes advantage of her on a regular basis. She soon becomes pregnant. Stella has a remarkable talent for using thread over and over again. Nothing is ever wasted. She is able to cleverly reuse thread to create maps that help slaves escape.

In New York City, Lily, a Jewish woman, suffragette, and abolitionist must say goodbye to her husband Jacob, a trombonist, composer, and Union army musician. Lily contributes to the abolitionist movement in New York.

William and Jacob develop a friendship because of their music while serving in the army. They are invited to entertain those in authority. Happily their friendship continues long after the Civil War.

This is an interesting story demonstrating the often degrading treatment of Black and Jewish soldiers during the Civil War.


New fiction

So Long, Chester Wheeler

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Lewis Madigan’s elderly neighbor Chester Wheeler is dying of cancer. Several of his home healthcare aides have quit. Chester is a very difficult person to be around for a variety of reasons, and his family will not take care of him. Chester’s daughter Ellie is desperate to find someone to take the job and finally convinces Lewis to give it a try. Lewis is desperate for money and Ellie has promised a generous paycheck.

Lewis is good with Chester. He ignores a lot and hollers back at Chester. Chester has a final trip in mind and Lewis agrees to drive Chester’s old Winnebago cross county to visit his ex-wife. After many difficult days of traveling, the pair finally make it to Sue’s home, but she refuses to talk to Chester and refuses to allow him in her home. With Lewis’ help, Sue and Chester are able to talk things over. Before heading back home, Sue suggests that they travel to visit Chester’s friend Mike. They served together in Vietnam and have things to talk over.

On the way back home, Chester dies.

Home healthcare aide becomes Lewis’ new profession. He eventually decides to become a nurse but promises not to quit helping another very difficult patient. His schooling is placed on hold for a time to fulfill his promise.


Spring into a Page-Turner

Philip Solomon is an author suffering from writer’s block. He decides to write what he knows and begins to document the disappearance of his friend Jeff’s mother, some 40 years previously.

On November 12, 1975, 10-year-old Miranda Larkin arrives home from school to discover her mother Jane missing without a trace. There is only one suspect – Dan Larkin, Jane’s husband and father to Miranda and her brothers, Jeff and Alex. Dan is an unflappable criminal defense attorney and a narcissist, but as Jane’s body is never found, he is never charged with murder. As years pass, Dan begins to suffer from dementia, and as Phil Solomon begins research for his book, old feelings and suspicion begin to surface once again. Is it possible that the Larkin kids were raised by a man who killed their mother?

William Landay’s All That Is Mine I Carry With Me is the perfect blend of a literary whodunnit and legal thriller and is twisty emotional family drama that keeps you guessing. Place your hold for this (deservedly) popular read and then just try and put it down after the first page.


Book Review: The Ingenue

The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Saskia Kreis is a piano prodigy returning home after her mother’s death. Riding into her hometown of Milwaukee on fumes, Saskia is barely making ends meet by writing SAT questions. Her days of tickling the ivories are long behind her, abruptly ending as she entered adulthood. It wasn’t easy, after all, to be the child genius of an accomplished classical musician and a renowned author-illustrator.

Saskia knows that the family home, named Elf House, will be hers one day soon. A gothic mansion, the house has been in the family for generations and has its quirks. But when her mother’s will doesn’t name Saskia as the inheritor of the home, she has questions. Why did her mother leave the unfinished manuscript in her famous Fairy Tales for Little Feminists series to Saskia? And most of all, why did she leave the house to Patrick Kintner? Patrick is a spectral shadow on Saskia’s young adulthood that she just can’t shake. Elf House is meant to be Saskia’s, and she will do whatever it takes to make sure that her mother’s family legacy is protected.

Author Kapelke-Dale follows her debut The Ballerinas with a #MeToo story that will keep you reading “just one more chapter.”

Request a print copy, ebook, or eaudiobook.


National Library Week

For National Library Week, which runs from April 23-29, the staff at Rocky River Public Library have filled quite a few shelves full of our book recommendations. From nonfiction to graphic novels to fantasy to audiobooks, we’ve got a little bit of everything for every type of reader.  

But if you can’t make it in person to see our staff recommendations, here’s a list of just a few of the books staff have picked out:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

A reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel, Mexican Gothic follows the experiences of a courageous socialite in 1950s Mexico who is drawn into the treacherous secrets of an isolated mansion. 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis 

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best: The language of violence. 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara 

An account of the unsolved Golden State Killer case, written by the late author of the TrueCrimeDiary.com website traces the assaults and murders of dozens of victims and the author’s determined efforts to help identify the killer and bring him to justice. 

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak 

Three Daughters of Eve is set over an evening in contemporary Istanbul and follows the efforts of a woman to navigate cultural, religious and economic tensions during a seaside mansion dinner party while enduring painful memories of her deep multicultural friendships during her Oxford years. 

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff 

Zuboff explores the challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, presenting a detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism,” and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control human behavior. 

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami 

A clerk in a Tokyo of the near future works in an organization that controls the flow of information to society–employing electronic brainwashing and other insidious techniques–a job that contributes to his increasing sense of dehumanization. 

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe 

Keefe documents the notorious abduction and murder of I.R.A. Troubles victim Jean McConville in 1972 Belfast, exploring how the case reflected the brutal conflicts of Northern Ireland and their ongoing repercussions. 

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan 

Glitter and Glue presents an account of the author’s perspectives on motherhood, which have been shaped by her job as a nanny for a grieving Australian family and her character-testing experiences with her daughters. 

Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl 

Despite the unspeakable horrors that Frankl faced in the Nazi concentration camps, he learned from the strength of his fellow inmates that it is always possible to “say yes to life”–a profound and timeless lesson for us all. 

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker 

Kolker tells the heartrending story of a midcentury American family with 12 children, 6 of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease. 


The Forever Witness: How Genetic Genealogy Solved a Cold Case Double Murder by Edward Humes

On November 19, 1987 Jay Cook, 20, and his girlfriend Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, set off from Saanich, British Columbia for an overnight trip to Seattle, Washington. The purpose of the trip was to pick up a part for Jay’s father, but Tanya was along for the adventure. They never made it home. The couple was reported missing on November 20th. Tanya’s body was found on November 24. Two days later and 60 miles away authorities recovered Jay’s body. Detective’s suspected they were dealing with the work of a serial killer, but frustratingly, they just could not make a case. With no leads, the case went cold, while the biological evidence collected from the scenes sat in a long-term storage deep freeze just waiting for advancements in DNA technology.

Meanwhile, genealogist CeCe Moore was pioneering the use of genetic genealogy to solve cold cases. In 2018 she joined Parabon Nanolabs as head of their genetic genealogy unit. Her first case was that of Tanya and Jay. When Detective Jim Scharf sent biological evidence to Parabon, he had no idea he and Moore were about to make history. In May, 2018 William Earl Talbott II was arrest, thanks to genetic genealogy research. In 2021, he because the first person to be convicted based on DNA evidence that was run through genealogy databases.

This was a meticulously researched and well told story that not only treats the victims and their families with respect and care, but also deftly navigates the controversial aspects of genetic genealogy and privacy rights. A must read for true crime fans.

Request a copy of The Forever Witness here or find digital copies here. Thanks to Netgally.com for an advanced reader copy.

Happy Reading!