In June of last year, I received a text message from Boston, telling me
omg this book I am reading contains the American Civil War Scarlet Pimpernel and his name is PEACEABLE SHERWOOD. And that is the story of how I first read The Sherwood Ring. Then in November, a copy of The Perilous Gard arrived on my bedside table for reasons that I will not speculate.
No, seriously, this is my life.
The Perilous Gard is a re-telling of Tam Lin set in Tudor Derbyshire, where Katherine Sutton has been sent by Mary I. Kate is sensible and practical and doesn’t have time for many of the superstitions and melodrama of the castle and the surrounding village, until she’s faced with the Fair Folk and then she doesn’t even have time for their nonsense. She sensibles her way through the book, saving her love interest by talking about architecture and farming and eventually telling him he looks ridiculous.
That’s one reason why Kate is a fierce and wonderful heroine. The other is that she outright refuses to do anything to give the fairies thrall over her. Free Will and the power of one’s own mind is held up throughout the book as the very single most important thing a person could have, and Kate’s determination to keep and to know her own mind powers her through the book. Kate is the kind of heroine that is established early as ‘clumsy’ and ‘sullen,’ but whose changes over the course of the book are incidental to her innate Kate-ness.
I love elves that are alien and arrogant and very very dangerous, and I’m growing incredibly fond of rediscovering folk stories from home, so this was a great book for me. And the drawings throughout by Richard Cuffari were beautiful. One thing that interested me was the implication that English people observed a bonfire ritual at the end of October in the 16th century. Does anyone know of any folk origins for Bonfire Night?
This post can also be found at Thagomizer.net. Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.