This is such a gorgeous volume for anyone of any age who has an interest in fairy folk the world over. I highly recommend getting it in hardback, as the paper quality is absolutely wonderful: luxuriously thick and offering a wonderful canvas for the art and information on offer inside.
And what art and information! Anna Claybourne takes a thoughtfully continental tack to her examination of fairy traditions the world over, beginning in Europe and circumnavigating the world to end in South America. Each section starts with a two-page spread of an illustrated map, followed by explanations of each type of fairy highlighted in said map, before addressing a common theme of fairies worldwide. It brings to light different and often little-known mythological creatures, attributing them to their originating cultures in a way that’s succinct yet flavorful. Honestly, I could read pages and pages more of this kind of stuff, especially in the way that this book merges academic anthropology with the kind of classic folk tales you often hear growing up. Whether discussing the regal Ao Si of Ireland or the thumbless Duende that range as far afield as Patagonia, Ms Claybourne writes with both knowledge and wit.
The art, for the most part, keeps up beautifully with the text, tho there were certain choices made that had me grimacing. As a Malaysian, I’m far too used to grinning and bearing it when popular maps are more vague than precise when it comes to depicting my part of the world, tho in fairness, this book does not claim geographical accuracy. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of having important information land so close to the interior gutter, forcing me to flatten the book further than I wanted to — ironically, a layout issue that I have to constantly worry about in my other career as an independent game designer.
Otherwise, the book is gorgeous, with lovely, whimsical art and a sumptuously foil-highlighted cover. It’s a terrific addition to the library of anyone who cares about fairy and folk tales (and honestly is a great supplement, especially for character ideas, for my own fae-centric role-playing game, Equinox, if I do say so myself!)
The Fairy Atlas: Fairy Folk of the World by Anna Claybourne & Miren Asiain Lora was published today October 4 2022 by Laurence King Publishing and is available from all good booksellers, including