Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold
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Logan treads familiar ground here -selkies and women giving birth to their children was an important element to her debut novel The Gracekeepers- but I love her writing so you don't hear me complain. Rosheen' by Irenosen Okijie is based on 'The Dauntless Girl' and feels solidly Gothic while discussing heritage and courage.
To read Daisy Johnson is to have that rare feeling of meeting an author you’ll read for the rest of your life. And Kirsty Logan is – perhaps by the choice of the project organisers and not her own – drawn to creatures of the sea once again in ‘Between Sea and Sky’.Their potency and darkness transmuted, a warning, a lesson, brimming under the surface of our lives.
The dark, gothic influenced, traditional folk tales are sourced from all corners of the British Isles, originating from the oral tradition, and fittingly this collection began as podcasts that evolved into these fascinating curated stories by Carolyne Larrington, professor of Medieval English Literature. The authors bring their own backgrounds and experience to these strange, vivid, atmospheric, distinct, different, haunting and weird stories, providing perfect reading matter for those long and dark Autumn and Winter nights.She has been longlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award and the New Angle Award for East Anglian writing. My fascination with folktales originally sprung from the hidden mystery in the fog, the twisting path in a dark forest, the never-ending echo of a deep well, the sudden end to footsteps in the snow. I loved the sly humour, and I like stories that involve the fair folk, so this was an absolute winner for me. Some of the stories are more ambiguous than fairytales generally are, hinting at explanations that are less overtly paranormal influence and more mental illness, grief, or human violence.
Her latest book ‘Born Between Crosses’ is a sequence of Prose-Poetry celebrating the working lives of Working Class Women, published with Hypatia Publications 2021 and her latest short-story features in HAG: Forgotten Folk Tales published by Virago Press. The authors focus on the various themes, ideas and evolutions in a woman's life, whether it is the bond between sisters, the loss of one's self, motherhood, inherited pain, burning desire, friendship and freedom. Eimar McBride’s The Tale of Kathleen is a relatively unembellished version of a folktale from Ireland which pits against each other Christian belief and fairie traditions. An appendix at the end presents the folktales upon which the commissioned authors worked their contemporary magic. This is a Feminist reclaiming of British Folktales and is definitely worth a read but just be warned, it'll stay with you.
I'd absolutely recommend listening to this as well, but to not forego the joy of reading them first. I'm exhausted by stories about pregnancy and childbirth being the only Universal Womanly Experience and that's a core feature of the majority of these stories (and you'll never guess what core underlying trait isn't in the two I sort of liked). I've been working my way slowly through Fen and not wanting it to end - Daisy marries realism to the uncanny so well that the strangest turnings ring as truth.