Monday, March 11, 2013

Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirlees

I'd heard a lot about Hope Mirlees' Lud in the Mist before it arrived on the list, and as a result I was rather eager to read it.

The title itself is odd and piques the curiousity.

It's not the easiest novel in the world to describe, because it doesn't have a particularly strong plot. What plot there is concerns the importation of 'fairy fruit' from the fairy lands near the borders of Dorimare, the kingdom which contains the town of Lud in the Mist. When I read about fairy fruit and it's dangerous and addictive qualities it immediately brought to mind 'goblin fruit' which Seanan McGuire used in the most recent Toby Daye book as a kind of addictive drug for the fae. It's also possible that Mirlees was trying to make some sort of correlation between it and illicit drugs, but I doubt it.

The writing is lush and languid. Mirlees had a great command of language and used it beautifully. The book sort of rambles along treating the readers to little thumbnail sketches of Lud in the Mist's inhabitants. Their secrets and desires are laid bare for the reader, a little like a fantasy Peyton Place.

Lud in the Mist also evokes thoughts of one of it's contemporaries; Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter and I kept being reminded of Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, both in style and content. I don't know if Clarke drew any inspiration from Lud in the Mist, but I'd be surprised to find out that she hadn't at least read it.

It's a gentle whimsical little book that deserves it's position as a classic of the genre and if you're in the mood for a prettily written book with some genuine insight and something a bit different you could do worse than to give Lud in the Mist a try.

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