Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
There is one thing wrong with this book. Let’s get it out of the way first. How can you write a book that deals with English Folklore, that mentions the influence on modern writers, and yet not mention, even in passing, Terry Pratchett? It’s true that there is already a book about Discworld and folklore, but still. It’s like this huge turtle hanging over the book.
That aside, this book is pretty good. Larrington details various folklore and legends of the countryside. The book is more than just the Green Man, but also fairies, selkies, and ghostly dogs. Larrington’s retelling of the various tales is solid, and she includes varieties. What is particularly interesting is her analysis of various tales.
She is able to connect selkie tales to marriage stories and how a woman might view marriage. In fact, if you have read Gould’s Spinning Straw Into Gold, Larrington’s book makes an good companion read. Larrington’s anaylsis adds another level to the idea of the Beauty and the Beast as tale preparing women for marriage. Additionally, her reading of the Finn saga, and in particular Sadb, is actually pretty mind blowing. It made me want to re-read the stories with her analysis in mind.
Larrington also connects the stories to modern work. If you are fan of Neil Gaiman, this book is worth reading for her gets several pages. Less popular authors and works get credit too, and there is a good chance that you will want to track down a newspaper article or two.
All in all, this is a good book about folklore connected to the landscape.