The best books for learning the old legends

Helen M. Pugsley Author Of The Tooth Fairy
By Helen M. Pugsley

Who am I?

I remember being gifted a copy of a fairy tale book for children by someone my dad worked with as a kid. "Wow, these are really close to the originals," Mom murmured under her breath.
"Wait, there are originals?" That set off a chain reaction of a lifelong love of fairy tales, myths, legends, and folk stories. Writing The Tooth Fairy forced me to double-check my lifetime of accumulated knowledge. Plus, being trapped indoors with audiobooks during a global pandemic left me a lot more time to learn! In short: I simply love the old legends.


I wrote...

The Tooth Fairy

By Helen M. Pugsley,

Book cover of The Tooth Fairy

What is my book about?

When Covid-19 hits, 26-year-old dentist Marlene has to move back from Yuma, Arizona, to her parent's ranch in Olsen County, Wyoming. There she finds out she is a changeling -- A fairy switched with a human child. She learns there is a human girl in Fairyland wearing her face.
The two women become fast friends!

Until something much darker happens, Marlene must save her newfound sister, Krysathia, from the fae. While also trying to save herself from both the pandemic and poverty.

The books I picked & why

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The Water Witch

By Juliet Dark,

Book cover of The Water Witch

Why this book?

This book is about a single lady, in an old house, living alone after a recent breakup. Being in a similar situation, it caught my attention and held it. All of a sudden, the strong female lead was battling the fae queen, helping nymphs through rivers, and transforming into a deer while battling addiction! Her best friends were a brownie and a djinn, she worked for a witch, her handyman was a Norse God, and her ex was a literal incubus. I learned a lot from reading this one, but it also got me to lookup more legends independently. Like the one about William Duffy and Janet Bird.


A Monster Like Me

By Wendy S. Swore,

Book cover of A Monster Like Me

Why this book?

This is a story about a girl with a port-wine stain under her eye. Looking different, people treat her differently. The main character, Sophie, copes by carrying around a book called "The Big Book of Monsters" and identifying the monsters and humans around her. I found Sophie pretty knowledgeable on the subject of old legends! There were a few I hadn't heard of and had to look up myself. I also like her character development, and how she becomes more empathetic. Overall, it was entertaining and informative.


Finding Faeries: Discovering Sprites, Pixies, Redcaps, and Other Fantastical Creatures in an Urban Environment

By Alexander Rowland,

Book cover of Finding Faeries: Discovering Sprites, Pixies, Redcaps, and Other Fantastical Creatures in an Urban Environment

Why this book?

Have you ever had a book actively try to stop you from reading it? This non-fiction book was guarded like all doorways into Fairie. Every time I sat down to read it the kettle would come to a boil, or the phone would ring! I read it cover to cover though. Even finding it again to tell you about it was a challenge.


The Good Neighbors

By Holly Black, Ted Naifeh (illustrator),

Book cover of The Good Neighbors

Why this book?

Holly Black co-wrote the Spiderwick Chronicles and knows her stuff. I found this series of graphic novels extremely entertaining, and chillingly true to the old legends. Black takes old legends from several Eurocentric cultures and has them coexisting in one single city, as just people, trying to make it. Poor Rue, the main character, is only half-human. When she finds out her mother is one of "the good neighbors"-- a fairy princess, she has to venture to her grandfather's realm to find her, meanwhile, a swan maiden is murdered up the street, and nixies steal her boyfriend. The drama of the series was riveting, as were the legends she called upon.


American Gods

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of American Gods

Why this book?

Out of all of my recommendations, this one probably has the most diversity. I feel Gaiman captured American culture through his immigrant eyes (he mentioned he had moved at the end of the book). There were Egyptian Gods, Hindu Gods, German fae I had never heard of, African Gods, and pagan Gods from all over. It really made me think about how American culture is like a patchwork quilt. But I also managed to learn a lot about legends I simply hadn't been exposed to yet.


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