Yearning for Wonderland
There is such a place as fairyland - but only children can find the way to it...until they have grown so old that they forget the way. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again...The world calls them singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland. ~ L.M Montgomery
This entry courtesy of Victoria Boulton.
A unicorn! She was luminous with beauty in the silver light. My inner-child rose up from the depths of my heart, dancing and laughing. I wished that I had never silenced her and had dared to believe.
I came out from behind the tree trunk and held out my hand as you would to a skittish pet. “Hello.” My voice was soft with nerves and stupid with wonder.
The unicorn snorted and pawed at the ground, and I thought she would flee, leaving me forever wondering. But then my heart soared up on a wave of heat and happiness as she approached. My fingers twitched as her breath tickled my palm. So close, I thought. She lowered her horn.
The unicorn was knocked aside by a boulder of brown flesh – a troll, a lumpy, misshapen man with curved claws and walrus-like tusks.
“Don’t!” I threw myself forwards, grabbing the arm he had drawn back to strike.
I staggered as he shook me loose, but at this reprieve the unicorn trumpeted her victory and lunged, burying her horn deep into my belly.
“Broaam!”The troll grabbed the unicorn and flung her; she hit a tree with a sickening crack! I sank to my knees; the unicorn did not stir.
I pressed shaking hands to my belly. “It’s… so wet…”
“Girl.”I looked up and he scooped me into his arms. “You were foolish to approach a white fey,” he rumbled as he carried me. “I will bring you to the goblinfolk- they are clever with their hands and will know what to do with you.”
I struggled not to faint into the chest of my saviour, half-dead because of the lies my mother read me when I was a child.
From the brain of Mark Wilson (@mors_kajak), our first entry about banjos. Enjoy.
Kappa Die Tutti Capo  by Mark Wilson
The house was full of dust, but my cough as I entered was exaggerated, an “Anyone there?!” composed of fear. Not reassured, I moved towards the door at the end of the hall.
Distance had meant I hadn’t seen my late grandfather for years, although we continued to correspond: “Before you take possession of my house, there is something I must share. You probably don’t remember the pond in the wood that borders my garden…”
I had been to that pond this morning. The day was still and hot, but the woodland sounds had died into silence by the time I was twenty feet from the water, and the air seem to hum by the time I was within ten feet, which was as close as I dared approach.
“I don’t know if I got them all. I learned to reason with them, but they are so very dangerous, and I risked the lives of so many.“
I opened the door to the basement, shivering despite the sweat running off me.
“The kappa are so polite, you see, but there were so many, I had to bargain them all into giving a concert…“
I descended the stairs, my attempt at a further cough only a quite rasp.
As I entered the basement, I was greeted by a tableau of terror. A dozen of the creatures, frozen in polite rictus, each with one of grandfather’s banjos clutched in dead hands, the rusted capos still clamped round the third fret. Their heads were bowed to the empty chairs, as if still receiving echoes of long-ago applause, the floorboards around their feet stained from where the pond fluid had spilled from their heads.
There was a drip from the ceiling. A scrape on a capo, and the sound of a banjo string snapping…
 Desperately contrived and unamusing (except to me) sort-of Latin pun. I expect there are bonus points for that….
In the interests of being fair, I offer up to you my own submission to The Fairy Ring Writing Contest. I can’t win, of course, but I wanted to share my humble effort as I believe all writers are in this together. I hope you enjoy.
Violets by Anna Meade
“I want a man who’ll twine violets in my hair.”
I wrote this sentence and then doodled violets in the journal margin. My whimsy would be the death of me. My days were spent on the outskirts of the woods behind my parents’ home, sprawled under a tree on a faded blue-check blanket, barefoot and hair-tumbled and romantic poetry-addled.
I rolled onto my back, staring at the late summer sky. My too-long skirt tangled round my legs, so I sat up to extricate myself. The shadow fell over me then.
I squinted up at him in the sun, “Hello.”
He smiled and put a finger to his lips. His step barely stirred the grass. He took me by the hand to his bower, where we supped on honeysuckle and blackberries.
“Every day I am with you feels like a year,” said I, idly leaning against his shoulder.
He smiled, so tenderly, and wound flowers through my curls.
His hands were gentle and his kisses were poignant. I stayed awake as long as I could, but my traitor eyelids fell. I slept so heavy, filled with ambrosia and dreams, and when I woke all the forest was in the chill grip of autumn.
I shivered and hurried back towards the edge of the woods, back to my parents’ home. I ran to the door and pounded, “Mother! Father! I’m back!”
The door opened and a startled wrinkle-raisined face peered back at me. “Are you looking for someone, child?”
I stumbled backwards and ran towards the forest, heedless of my way. I found my tree and beneath it, mostly buried in the dirt, I unearthed the smallest fragment of paper. It was weather-faded and nearly illegible, but I knew what it said:
“I want a man who’ll twine violets in my hair.”
Painting by John William Waterhouse; Photography by Andrew Kuykendall
Hear ye! Yearning for Wonderland proudly announces their very first writing contest. Ever.
I know it’s what you’ve all been waiting for. Please calm yourself. No tears of joy, please.
By this point, you might be saying, get on with it!
Shhh, I am savoring…okay, here are the details.
This contest is in honor of The Fairy Ring (you know you want to read it! Or gift it to someone who believes in true magic in the world). For those of you who have not yet read my review of Mary Losure’s The Fairy Ring (Candlewick Press, 2012), please do so to know how amazing this prize is. I know several of my readers have expressed interest in the book – now is your chance to win it for free!
Galleys have graciously been provided by the beauteous Raquel Matos of Candlewick Press.
I will announce the winners by February 22nd. I cannot wait to see all the magnificent permutations of fae encounters that your creative minds will unleash. Let the games begin!
Additional Details (updated 2/14/12)
* The winner of the contest will have their link shared on the Google+ page of Candlewick Press, woot!
* The title does not count in the 300 word limit.
* In the spirit of the contest and the book, please no erotica or slasher horror. I love dark fairytales, but give us goosebumps not buckets of blood.
* Please visit all of the entries and comment – writers love feedback!
* WordPress blogs need different HTML – email me at annabbps at gmail.com if you want me to send you the alt. code.
* If you do not have a blog and would like to enter, send me your entry to the above email and I will post it on Yearning for Wonderland.
* We have an amazing new logo, courtesy of Ruth Long @bullishink
Comment with any questions. Here is the Linky Tool code to copy to your blog’s HTML:
To the 19th
century mind, the camera captured truth. You placed an object in front of it, clicked the button, and it created an indelible record of reality…or so it seemed. Yet in 1917, two young girls produced photographs which claimed to document fairies. If you are curious, click here to see the photos
and find out more about the Cottingley fairies.
The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure tells the well-known story from the girls’ point of view, first from the perspective of Frances on her arrival in England (Part I), then from the perspective of Elsie (Part II) and then the story intersects to weave the tale of both girls and how their own personal fairytales ended. Losure consults primary sources like previously undisclosed personal letters to build her narrative.
In an era where Photoshop makes edits invisible, the story of the Cottingley fairies holds great fascination. To our sophisticated 21stcentury eyes, the series of fairy photographs is obviously faked, yet the girls persuaded one of the great minds of the 19th century, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Conan Doyle, who wrote one of the most skeptical anti-heroes of all time, Sherlock Holmes, was infamous in his own lack of skepticism. He believed in mystics and communications with his dead son through séance. Conan Doyle published a public defense of the photographs in the noted The Strand magazine, much to embarrassment of the girls’ parents.
The Fairy Ring
has all kinds of engaging little details, like the fact that Frances was originally from Cape Town, South Africa. Or the fact that 15 year old Elsie was rather older than Frances, at nine. The language is delightful and reminds me strongly of Frances Hodgson Burnett – my favorite author who writes children’s books that are more than children’s books. It would be the perfect book to read aloud, as the prose has a charming freshness that lends itself to speaking.
The book has excellent high-quality scans of the photographs, which in itself is a pleasure to those who love Edwardian photography. There is a lot of argument about the final photograph in the Cottingley series. Fairy enthusiasts point out how different it is from the others, which clearly contain paper cut-outs. Here is the photo. The flanking fairies look like paper, but the central creature has a magnificent translucence – what do you think?
You should read this book if you love fairies and wish there was a touch more magic in the world.
Candlewick Press, 2012. Thanks to @quellelove for the fantastic recommendation and ARC .