RogerBW's Blog

The Halcyon Fairy Book, T Kingfisher 19 January 2024

2017 fantasy anthology in two parts, commentaries on fairy stories and a few original ones.

All right, perhaps the commentaries are a bit one-note; they're snark, but they're good snark.

And when they had gone a little way they came to the sea, and then they sailed, but where they got the ship from I have never been able to learn.

I am so explaining away my next plot-hole with this one. "And where they got the tactical nuke from, I have never been able to learn."

These were originally published over an extended period on Vernon's blog—but unlike her previous serial-turned-book Summer in Orcus I had a great time consuming them pretty much all at once. (If snark wears on you, though, perhaps try spacing them out.)

All those who think that the prince will have learned to listen to the absurdly competent Master-maid and will be very sure not to break his promise, raise your hand!

Okay, if your hand is raised, you have failed Fairy Tales 101. Please report to the office for our remedial class, entitled "Why We Do Not Insult Old Women At Wells And Other Vital Lessons."

No good will come of it!

In a variant of Cinderella:

She put Little Rag Girl in a corner, with a big basket over her. When the king came into the house he sat down on the basket, in order to try on the slipper.

Little Rag Girl took a needle and pricked the king from under the basket. He jumped up, stinging with pain, and asked the step-mother what she had under the basket. The stepmother replied, "It is only a turkey I have there."

You know, one of those new fangled needle turkeys. We crossed them with porcupines so they could eat tree bark. Tasty, but you have to be really careful plucking them.

So that's that. The last third of the book is a collection of Vernon's own short stories in the fairy tale form, much in the style of some of her earlier novels: Loathly lets the Sea Witch tell her side of the story, The Wolf and the Woodsman recalls Red Riding Hood, and so on.

Turtle, not being a stupid child, swept her muffins into a basket. They went glop, which is not an appropriate sound for muffins to make upon contacting wicker, but Turtle was pleased by this, because the last batch had gone clonk and glop was progress of a sort.

As with original fairy stories, there are hard lessons here, but with rather more logic and good sense (not to mention human villainy) behind them rather than the arbitrariness of "oh, you were polite, well too bad you're going to be blinded anyway". Good stuff!

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  1. Posted by DrBob at 09:57am on 19 January 2024

    If you explain plot-holes with "I have never been able to learn" your players should retaliate with the awesome equipment list from a pulp novel in a turkey reading. It had a sentence listing weapons, gear etc and finished with "and anything else they thought useful." :-)

  2. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 01:41pm on 20 January 2024

    DrBob, you made me smile. Well played.

  3. Posted by JohnP at 09:16pm on 21 January 2024

    DrBob - Like in your Dr Who game where the SgtMajor had on his equipment list "Anything the Colonel might need"?

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