In the country of Dorimare, the capital city of Lud-In-The-Mist lay at the confluence of two rivers about ten miles from the Elfin Hills and Elfin Marches. It also lay just miles from the Debatable Hills, which to those whom believe, leads to an exotic world called Fairyland — one where the silent people reside, and one where the living will never return from. Though this legend is weaved deeply into the folklore of Lud-In-The-Mist, it by law, has been banished from existence itself. For the discussion of Fairyland, or the discussion of Fairyfruit (a fruit said to cause madness in those who eat it), is looked down upon by the citizens of Lud-In-The-Mist; besides, by law, it doesn’t exist anyway, right?
Though the the town of Lud-In-The-Mist is beautifully described as being plentiful of trees, fruitful, and a great place for children and families to live and prosper, it also has it’s share of unwanted problems — the major one being quite serious: the illegal import of that non-existent fruit, Fairyfruit. And yes, while this fruit is simply deemed a ridiculous legend by law, regardless, it has been illegally smuggled into the city for years despite their (not so best) efforts to keep it out. This is when the story really heats up and leads to one of our main characters — Master Nathaniel Chanticleer, the Mayor of Lud-In-The-Mist.
Master Nathaniel has always been a rather simple but strange fellow – taking joy in his every day, repetitious tasks. Though to the common eye, Nathaniel seems to be quite the ordinary guy – the father of two, husband, he’s always been a bit..different. As if he’s continually moving through life at the beat of his own drum. Unfortunately for Nathaniel, his familiar and comforting life gets turned upside down when his Son, Ranulph Chanticleer, claims to have eaten the forbidden fruit after acting quite curious for a few days. This then leads down a strange path of twists and turns, a murder mystery, deception, and yes, the land of Faerie!
Lud-In-The-Mist is a one of kind a read – a pre-tolkien fantasy novel that clearly resembles the concepts of magic and fantasy that many authors work with today. From touching moments, to wondrous enchanting moments, to sad more serene ones – and even to extremely humorous times, this book has something for everything. Author Hope Mirrlees does such a grand job creating a completely new and different world – a world that you could swear truly exists somewhere today. A world that I would love to visit – though in some ways, I feel I already have..
Along with the enchanting beauty of this one-of-a-kind world that Mirrlees masterfully conjures up, her use of the English language is very nineteenth-century and adds to the whole feel of this book. The wording, the phrasing, the terms – they all contribute to the majestic vibe that this writing gives off to the reader — transforming them into a different place and time. Mirrlees’s beautiful style truly shines brightly throughout, flowing from page to page almost poetically while remaining incredibly descriptive and enjoyable. Her depictions are stunningly vivid; her narration of events and places beautifully detailed. All in all, her ability to create such unique and realistic descriptions is a truly unique gift – one that really isn’t seen very often.
Oh, and of course, we cannot forget to mention (no, never!), her unique exclamations and curses that pop up from time to time within this lovely tale – curses her characters often use in stressful, shocking, or unpleasant situations. Phrases like “Toasted Cheese!” or “By my great aunts rump!” Or perhaps, “By the Sun, Moon, and the Stars!” or “Son of a Fairy!” (which is apparently quite a naughty one in the world of Lud-In-The-Mist). Though none can truly compare to my personal favorite, “Busty Bridgit!” Ah yes, I found myself chuckling several times throughout this book, and these cute little expressions truly add some very humorous and light moments to a fairly deep read.
All in all, I must say that Lud-In-The-Mist is a beautifully written fairy tale with unique and compelling characters, excellent lore and back-story, and a very solid and engaging plot. My only slight gripe is that I wanted more time spent within the Faerie realm, but in my view, the way this book was laid out and evolved from chapter to chapter was more than appropriate. Lud-In-The-Mist is a book I will treasure forever, and one that will remain a classic in my eyes until the end of days. If I had to recommend this to a specific audience, I would say this: To anyone who enjoys a fairy tale – to anyone who enjoys humor, and fantasy, and a magic world – to anyone who enjoys mesmerizing descriptions and surroundings – read this book. Enjoy it. Take it in. I’ll also say that if you’re someone who enjoys the likes of Tolkien or Neil Gaiman (as this novel is very reminiscent to these creative authors), you will love this. I know I did. For me, this book was not just read, but a magical journey.