Originally published as a hardcover in January 2005 for the Science Fiction Book Club, this 2007 paperback release of The Fair Folk: Six Tales of the Fey is an eclectic compilation of fairy tales written by prominent authors of the fantasy genre. Marvin Kaye edited the anthology and pens the introduction to the selections of fairy lore. Each selection is presented with a short biography of the author(s) and a bit of relevant background information.
Tanith Lee is the renowned author behind the first selection, “UOUS.” This is a modern Cinderella tale, featuring a young girl forced into servitude for her extremely unlikable stepmother and stepsisters after her father’s death. In this brash tale, even the downtrodden don’t get a break.
“Grace Notes” by Megan Lindholm is perhaps the most commonplace story in the anthology. Jeffrey is a simple working man, toiling away unhappily at his thankless, mundane job. While Jeffrey is at work, some unknown being is transforming his apartment into something straight out of an interior design magazine, and driving him quickly into bankruptcy.
An investigator digs through clues to explain the strange disappearance and reappearance of a sister and brother in “The Gypsies in the Wood.” No one can deny there’s magic afoot.
An antiquated tale of pampered artists introduces the legend of “The Kelpie” by Patricia A. McKillip. When Ned and Emma meet at a party filled with aspiring painters, they immediately become captivated with each other. Despite their secret knowledge that they are destined to be together, Emma’s nymph-like beauty has attracted the eye of another admiring painter, Bram, who is relentless in his quest for Emma’s attention. Fleeing Bram’s smothering affections, Emma runs straight into the spell of the murderous kelpie.
“An Embarrassment of Elves” by Craig Shaw Gardner is a comical excursion into a land of elves, unicorns, dragons, witches, and every other magical being the reader can conceive of. Wuntvor and his mythical companions fall victim to Elvin enchantment when visited by Princess Lalala and Prince Dadooronron, who wish to extend an invitation to an elf party. However, evil forces in the guise of Dark Riders are drawing closer, and the celebration may be doomed.
“Except the Queen” is comprised of letters written between two sisters expelled from their magical home as they familiarize themselves with human customs. Meteora and Serana have gone separate ways, but the Queen has yet more challenges in store for them.
With the drastically varying writing styles of each individual author, there is bound to be an enjoyable story for every reader in The Fair Folk. As an added bonus, Kaye has provided a few pages of additional information on fairy legends and characteristics following the collection.