10 books like The Fairies in Tradition and Literature

By Katharine M. Briggs,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Fairies in Tradition and Literature. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Coming of the Fairies

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

Book cover of The Coming of the Fairies

This is a surprise pick. It’s the first book about “real” fairies that I read. I was 15 years old when my local librarian showed me the book. The author was best known for creating the Sherlock Holmes series, and he wrote a book about fairies? 

The Cottingley fairies appear in a series of photographs taken by two young girls living in England in 1917. When the pictures came to the attention of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he interpreted them as clear and visible evidence of the existence of fairies. Many people accepted the images as genuine; others believed they had been faked. This fascinating account of the “sightings” allows us to get inside the mind of a highly intelligent man who also happened to believe in fairies. But were the fairies real?

The Coming of the Fairies

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Coming of the Fairies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PREFACE This book contains reproductions of the famous Cottingley photographs, and gives the whole of the evidence in connection with them. The diligent reader is in almost as good a position as I am to form a judgment upon the authenticity of the pictures. This narrative is not a special plea for that authenticity, but is simply a collection of facts the inferences from which may be accepted or rejected as the reader may think fit. I would warn the critic, however, not to be led away by the sophistry that because some professional trickster, apt at the game of…


Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

By W.B. Yeats,

Book cover of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

Yeats, a mystic poet, travelled across Ireland in the late 1800s and early 1900s, asking country people if they’d ever seen fairies and taking down their stories. “I believe when I am in the mood that all nature is full of people whom we cannot see,” he wrote in an earlier book, The Celtic Twilight. “Even when I was a boy I could never walk in a wood without feeling that at any moment I might find before me somebody or something I had long looked for without knowing….” Yates believed the songs and stories "handed down among the cottages” were “Folk art [which]… because it has gathered into itself the simplest and most unforgettable thoughts of the generations… is the soil where all great art is rooted.”  His own poetry bears this out. 

Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

By W.B. Yeats,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Irish Fairy and Folk Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fairy and folk tales from the best preserved branch of Celtic mythology.


Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

By Susanna Clarke,

Book cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

As you probably gathered from my notes above, when it comes to reading historical fantasy, I think there are tons of great options. But if you only try one of the books I’m highlighting, make it Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Susanna Clarke’s masterpiece has whimsy for days and is set in one of my favorite eras (Napoleonic Europe). And even when I laid the book down during some of the slower bits, I never doubted I’d pick it back up; Clarke’s stewardship was too amusing, too inventive, and ultimately too trustworthy—I always had faith she was shepherding me to a satisfying conclusion. And she did: in the end, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell proved itself more than worthy of the time it took to read.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of…


Artemis Fowl

By Eoin Colfer,

Book cover of Artemis Fowl

Yes, it’s about elves, centaurs, and gnomes. But it is also very much a mystery. Part police procedural with Capt. Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police, part ransom caper, and part ticking bomb suspense, Artemis Fowl mixes all of these classic crime components with fantasy, scatological humor, and unexpected twists to create a story both original and familiar. Another much-loved selection from the Cavanagh library.

Artemis Fowl

By Eoin Colfer,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Artemis Fowl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now an original movie on Disney+!

Twelve-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous--and extremely high-tech--fairies. He kidnaps one of them, Holly Short, and holds her for ransom in an effort to restore his family's fortune. But he may have underestimated the fairies' powers. Is he about to trigger a cross-species war?

Disney's “Artemis Fowl” is directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Tamara Smart, Nonzo Anozie, with Josh Gad, and Judi Dench.


Prison Fae

By Drake Mason, Marisa Mills,

Book cover of Prison Fae: Supernatural Penitentiary

I've just discovered Fae Urban Fantasy and I'm absolutely hooked. I love this world and this writing partnership sparkles like endless glitter showers of fairy dust. I connected with student Noelle like a sister, and – you guessed it – by a quirk of fate, she finds herself in the land of the fae, and they are Bad People. Well, they're not all bad, but they can be every bit as mean and spiteful as mortals, even though they look pretty. I've read both books and I believe there's a third one coming out. Again, it's about being brave, confronting your problems, and holding on to people you love. I can't wait to see how the story turns out. 

Prison Fae

By Drake Mason, Marisa Mills,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prison Fae as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Abducted by a cruel Fae. Condemned to fight, or die.
"My heart is still racing...an adrenaline filled gem."
"Purchased this book on the off chance and so glad I did."

All college student Noelle Fidelis wants is a chance to be normal. To blend in at a party, without the crippling social anxieties that come from a history of abuse and insecurity. Instead, a chance encounter with a dark-alley creep turns into a terrifying prison sentence, after she's abducted by a royal Fae and condemned to fight against other supernatural inmates in a battle for survival. Her only allies are…


The Folk of the Air

By Holly Black,

Book cover of The Folk of the Air

Holly Black is a master of the fae tale. Much has been said about this trilogy already but I assure you, the praise is well-deserved. Each book has a tight and dynamic plot, prose that fairly flies off the page, and a conclusion that is very satisfying. The first book was almost deceptive in the way it presented a not-very-strong protagonist until she evolves and becomes so much more than the reader thinks her to be. It’s the best kind of fictional surprise.

The Folk of the Air

By Holly Black,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Folk of the Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover Holly Black's epic bestselling The Folk of the Air series in this complete e-book collection which includes: The Cruel Prince, The Lost Sisters, The Wicked King, and The Queen of Nothing.

Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her…


The Wanderings of Oisin

By W.B. Yeats,

Book cover of The Wanderings of Oisin: And Other Poems

Yeats is one of my favourite poets, and while you may not associate him with fantasy, he did write some extraordinarily beautiful poems that are retellings of Irish folk tales and legends. Teeming with faeries, immortals, and other fey creatures, these are poems in the tradition of the great Romantic poets such as Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Tennyson. The titular poem is only one of many beautiful fantasy poems in this collection.

The Wanderings of Oisin

By W.B. Yeats,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wanderings of Oisin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Complete Fairy Tales

By George MacDonald, U.C. Knoepflmacher,

Book cover of The Complete Fairy Tales

Lewis considered George MacDonald his spiritual father, having never met the man. He said that MacDonald introduced him to the gospel through his stories before he even knew that that’s what was happening. How? Metaphor. George MacDonald knew of God’s love more than most and did his best to share it with the world, deeply hidden in fairy tales, the kind of folklore that Lewis, Tolkien, and the rest of the Inklings loved so dearly.

The Complete Fairy Tales

By George MacDonald, U.C. Knoepflmacher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Fairy Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

George MacDonald occupied a major position in the intellectual life of his Victorian contemporaries. This volume brings together all eleven of his shorter fairy stories as well as his essay "The Fantastic Imagination". The subjects are those of traditional fantasy: good and wicked fairies, children embarking on elaborate quests, and journeys into unsettling dreamworlds. Within this familiar imaginative landscape, his children's stories were profoundly experimental, questioning the association of childhood with purity and innocence, and the need to separate fairy tale wonder from adult scepticism and disbelief.


Folk

By Zoe Gilbert,

Book cover of Folk

I just discovered this book and want to teach it in every one of my classes! Folk is a series of stories about the villagers in a tiny, closed-off island filled with strange rituals and a cacophony of alliances and grudges. Her language is simply thrilling, and the fairy tales are shocking in all different ways. We hear a different perspective in each story, so the book results in a fairy tale about how small communities work and what the ‘folk’ in them must do—and believe—in order to get along.  

Folk

By Zoe Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Folk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A captivating, magical and haunting debut novel of breathtaking imagination, from the winner of the 2014 Costa Short Story Award LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE 'That rare thing: genuinely unique' OBSERVER 'Will win you over ... Magical' THE TIMES 'Absolutely stunning. I loved it' MADELINE MILLER, AUTHOR OF CIRCE On the remote island of Neverness, the villagers' lives are entwined with nature: its enchantments, seductions and dangers. There is May, the young fiddler who seeks her musical spirit; Madden Lightfoot, who flies with red kites; and Verlyn Webbe, born with a wing for an arm. Over the…


Little, Big

By John Crowley,

Book cover of Little, Big

The same way hearing “soap opera” used as a pejorative upsets me so much I want to fake my own death, frame my estranged father for murder, and wrest control of his business empire, hearing “fairy tale” used that way makes me want to wave a wand and turn the detractors of science fiction and fantasy into horny toads.

John Crowley’s Little, Big, winner of the World Fantasy Award, is not only a fairy tale with actual fairies, but also one that’s an actual tale. So many novels described as literary forget to tell a story. This is not one of them. In Little, Big, you’ll meet the charismatic Drinkwater family; I would say more, but it’s best if you see for yourself where this tale takes them.

Little, Big

By John Crowley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Little, Big as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edgewood is many houses, all put inside each other, or across each other. It's filled with and surrounded by mystery and enchantment: the further in you go, the bigger it gets.

Smoky Barnable, who has fallen in love with Daily Alice Drinkwater, comes to Edgewood, her family home, where he finds himself drawn into a world of magical strangeness.

Crowley's work has a special alchemy - mixing the world we know with an imagined world which seems more true and real. Winner of the WORLD FANTASY AWARD, LITTLE, BIG is eloquent, sensual, funny and unforgettable, a true Fantasy Masterwork.

Winner…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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