The #Fae versus #Demons – a few quick thoughts

June’s choices were all awesome and I’d like to continue reading more books featuring the fae. Demon-like in their malleability, they can be anything their creator needs them to be. Karen Marie Moning really used that trait to her advantage in Darkfever. The fae in that book were all varied and imaginative. Unlike demons, however, the fae come with a ready-made uniform mythology for any author to use as backstory if they choose. (There are the dark fae of the Unseelie Court and the light fae of the Seelie Court for starters, this backstory courtesy of the fae’s European origins. Some might consider the fae a subset of demons — Europe’s collective pre-Christianity take on the concept. The light fae seem to share some characteristics with fallen angels whereas the dark fae seem to resemble true demons. Perhaps the Seelie/Unseelie courts are a result of pagan Europe’s inability to imagine a world governed by any structure other than royal houses…?) I’ve often thought about writing a future series featuring fae characters (versus demons or some other type of monster), but it’s always seemed to me, that outside of certain circles, no one’s ever heard the term “fae.” They get a blank look when I mention the word.

So those are my semi-deep, very un-academic thoughts on fae versus demons. If you disagree, have thoughts to add, or want to share a link to an interesting source that discusses this too, please take the time to comment! I’d love to hear from you.

Okay, on to my more specific thoughts on the books.

Darkfever

MacKayla Lane is a young Southern bartender, who initially reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse, which made me curious about who came first. (Sookie. But that’s where the similarities end — at least as much as I can remember. It’s been a long time since I read Charlaine Harris’ first Southern vampire mystery.)

Moning opens her Fever series by introducing readers to Mac, a blonde, pink-loving, cell phone-toting, matching accessory-wearing twenty-something from Georgia whose naiveté comes off as charming, funny, or endearing rather than annoying. (Other readers may feel differently, but I doubt anyone who reads this blog will. We here are appreciative of characters with large growth potential and we don’t have a problem remembering we were all young once. Nobody is born wise.) Mac’s older sister is horrifically murdered and when the local authorities quickly close the case as unsolvable, Mac decides to travel to Ireland to see what clues she can find herself.

I liked that Moning’s fae were true monsters. Even the pretty ones were evil. I was surprised by how much was left open/unsolved/unresolved in the end, but I never felt like Darkfever dragged or didn’t move fast enough. Instead, it seemed to nicely set up future books. I imagine future stories will focus on Mac and Barrons tracking down and killing the Unseelie baddies while simultaneously searching for a way to seal the otherworld door they’re using. (If Jaws had been Darkfever, it would have ended at the part where Brody says, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”)

A Court of Thorns and Roses/A Court of Mist and Fury

Although published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens, my library shelves these under adult SFF, which is where I’d put them too. No doubt, some books can be hard to categorize. Librarians do their best, weighing many things before making their decision. The romantic scenes are well written, but detailed enough to possibly take some younger teen readers by surprise. (Teens who read new adult fiction will be fine.)

Loosely based on Beauty & the Beast with a whiff of Tam Lin and a smattering of Persephone/Hades. There’s also a lot of original worldbuilding, which keeps it interesting. The book opens with the starving Feyre killing a wolf for its prey — a deer. Turns out, the wolf isn’t really a wolf. It’s a faerie and Feyre gets dragged off to a fae court where she is held captive as punishment for killing it. Her captor? Tamlin… whose face is obscured by a jeweled mask.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Arguably the best written of the three (it’s been nominated for, and won, many prestigious awards, including the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel), but not for everyone. It’s long and dense, packed with footnotes and written in a voice that evokes bygone British authors. Set in an alternate 19th century England where magic exists but has long been dormant, the book is written in three parts. The first two are named after the titular characters and the third after the missing Raven King, the man who brought magic to England nearly a millennia ago, whose disappearance caused the gradual withdrawal of magic from England. It’s been adapted into a BBC TV series. Has anyone seen it? If so, tell me what you think in the comments!