The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, 2006)

Grade: Β — Great book within the genre, probably worth reading regardless of which genre’s you like, but has a setting or style that may not appeal to individuals who are not fans of a given genre.  

In brief: This collection of original short stories is a wonderful read.  All of the tales are focused on a classic 18th and 19th Century model of fairies that have more in common with Yeats than they do with either Disney or Tolkien.  I found this book refreshing and new, while still managing to capture the authentic feel of fairy stories with all their dark and sinister subplots. 

 Setting: Some of the tales are tied into the world Clarke created for her breakout novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, one (that involves the Iron Duke himself) takes place in to world of Stardust (created by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess), while others are simply original works that have the feel and flow of traditional tales of the Sidhe and other such Fae folk

In Depth: I don’t normally review collections of short stories, but as that I love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel so much, and as that this book was recommended by some of my fellow bloggers (smartgirlsscifi.wordpress.com and theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.com to name two), I thought I would include this book.  It was a highly enjoyable collection that held the authenticity of actual fairy stories and avoided both the cliché fae folk of modern fantasy and the happy go-lucky little people fairies who were tutus and live down by the garden shed.  Though, as with any collection, some stories were better than others, I enjoyed the book throughout and would recommend it to anyone.

The stories are presented within a bookend of tales that come from Clarke’s own world of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, but while each of these two stories was enjoyable, neither was the best within the collection.  Indeed, for myself, I enjoyed the original stories, Mrs. Mabb, Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower¸ and Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge was Built at Thoresby to be the most enjoyable in the collection.  Having said that, there was nothing wrong with any of the other stories, I just enjoyed those three the most.

So, if you enjoy short stories, Susanna Clarke‘s other works, or love traditional tales of fae folk, I would highly recommend this book.  Indeed, I would probably suggest it as a jolly good read to anyone, unless they have some unnatural dislike of any of the aforementioned forms.

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About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in 19th Century Fantasy/Fae Tale, Fantasy, Series, Strong Characters, Unique or Imaginative World and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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