WIR #32: Lud-In-The-Mist

Hope MirrleesBorn Helen Hope Mirrlees in Chiselhurst, Kent, April 8, 1887, Hope Mirrlees was the daughter of a wealthy sugar merchant. She wrote three novels in her lifetime — she died in 1978, at the age of 91 — Lud-in-the-Mist being the last and proclaimed as "by far the more outstanding" of the three. Says Douglas A. Anderson, "with this single book her literary reputation as the author of one of the greatest fantasy novels is secured." Says author Michael Swanwick, "Lud-In-The-Mist is simultaneously one of the least known and most influential of modern fantasies. It is an underground classic among fantasists, many of whom list it among their favorite books."

And Neil Gaiman writes, "The book begins as a travelogue or a history, becomes a pastorale, a low comedy, a high comedy, a ghost story and a detective story. The writing is elegant, supple, effective and haunting: the author demands a great deal from her readers, which she repays many times over . . . a little golden miracle of a book." He also says, "The single most beautiful, solid, unearthly, and unjustifiably forgotten novel of the twentieth century."

Lud-In-The-MistSays the blurb:

Lud-in-the-Mist, the capital city of the small country Dorimare, is a port at the confluence of two rivers, the Dapple and the Dawl. The Dapple has its origin beyond the Debatable Hills to the west of Lud-in-the-Mist, in Fairyland. In the days of Duke Aubrey, some centuries earlier, fairy things had been looked upon with reverence, and fairy fruit was brought down the Dapple and enjoyed by the people of Dorimare. But after Duke Aubrey had been expelled from Dorimare by the burghers, the eating of fairy fruit came to be regarded as a crime, and anything related to Fairyland was unspeakable. Now, when his son Ranulph is believed to have eaten fairy fruit, Nathaniel Chanticleer, the mayor of Lud-in-the-Mist, finds himself looking into old mysteries in order to save his son and the people of his city.

This novel was originally written in 1926. Some of the best fantasy I've ever read comes from that time frame, Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter are two prime examples. I trust I shan't be disappointed.

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