Lud in Mist by Hope Mirrlees:
1st published in 1926
I found this odd little book through a recommendation of Niel Gaiman. He has stated that this book had quite an influence on his work and so, intrigued I sat down to read it. Maybe I haven’t found it quite as dated as many modern readers being nearer in age to its original published date of 1926 (no, no I’m not quite that old, however, as a child, I certainly read books that old.
Lud in Mist is a tale of country bumpkins living in an idyllic landscape of peace and beauty! A nostalgic idyll of bygone days it appears but then the oddness creeps in around the edges. Well that is how it seems to begin with. However there is a catch isn’t there always. This pastoral paradise borders fairyland. That is always a warning of trouble brewing. There are links to fairyland, the borders are permeable, animals have interbred, some curse words are fairy. We discover slowly that the land of Dorima filled with sensible folk was once one land with Fairyland. This is one land that has split in the past.
The danger, is in the hallucinogenic fairy fruit! With overtones of the Pied Piper, the children are being beguiled away to fairyland by fairy fruit smuggled across the border in an ingenious network. It is up to an unlikely hero Nathaniel Chanticleer to save the day.
I couldn’t decide quite what this tale was, there are as many interpretations, it appears, as there are fairies:) but I agreed with Neil Gaiman this a an enchanting read. I enjoyed the whimsy, the spite, the ludicrous characters, I certainly enjoyed the slightly dark overtones. This tale is a caper through Hope Mirrlees imagination and if it helped to inspire the likes of Neil Gaiman we have a lot to thank Hope Mirrelless for.
I cannot finish without saying how much I enjoyed the actual writing. I always enjoy reading someone who has such control over the language. Her writing is almost poetic, her descriptions are beautiful and every word counts.
A joy to read.