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The Mystery of The Fool and The Vanisher

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  173 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
An illustrated gothic novella told in three parts that may just convince you that fairies really do exist, this is a suspenseful and intricately plotted mystery-within-a-mystery that should appeal to fans of otherworldly creatures, the occult and archaeological investigation.
Hardcover, 100 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Walker & Company
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(showing 1-30)
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The book included so many elements I love: art photography... mysterious woods... hidden, possibly magical, objects... archaeology... Victorian fairy lore... collage...

Yet somehow it managed to be pretty mediocre.

It starts off well, with Ellwand's misty tree photos, which are really quite lovely and atmospheric. And the story-line concept of Ellwand learning about the Victorian photographer getting a job with an archaeological dig and disturbing the supernatural had plenty of potential. However
Mar 25, 2011 Sesana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fairies
The big draw (and, really, highlight) of The Mystery of the Fool and the Vanisher will probably be the photographs, bring the reader through misty woods that look and feel haunted by... something. Here, it's fae that watch the woods.

This is in the class of so many other faux-historical books that "document" some sort of brush with the supernatural. It shines in the quality of the evidence presented. Gorgeous atmospheric photographs, carefully constructed artifacts, and a storyline that is open,
Oct 10, 2008 Betsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I’ll give a speech at events or conferences about children’s books that break barriers. I’ll talk about titles that don’t neatly slot into award categories and, as a result, end up ignored and discarded in spite of their overall fabulousness. But for a couple months now I haven’t found a new title to add to this talk. Leave it to Candlewick to publish something to fill this unspeakable need. Now the names “David and Ruth Ellwand” together are perhaps best known for the picture book Mi ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Candace Cunard for

David Ellwand has always been fascinated by the Downs. This rolling landscape of open plains and beech trees, with its legends about faeries and other fantastic creatures, has always excited him. He never quite believes in the legends, but one day he discovers a flint stone with a hole naturally worn through the center, a stone which, when looked through, will allow him to see the creatures around him that cannot be perceived by the naked eye. One d
The concept of combining photography and journal writing about a mysterious journey discovering a chest full of "weird" stuff is quite cool. The first half of the book was eerie, revealing lots of photos of woods that looked like you will get lost in it.

Wonderful photographs that leads the reader throughout the first half of the story. Quite a creative way to start the journal with. Snipets of contact prints (Ilfor FP4 Plus) showing the dark, misty woods with weird looking tress. It was nice sh
Maria D'Isidoro
Oh this book gave me feelings. And not for the usual reasons.

The presentation and the multimedia approach to this story gets 5 stars, hands down. It's a beautiful book to look at. The photography is amazing and could tell a story all on its own. The writing, unfortunately, does not do the art justice in the least. It's an interesting story, but not well written. It stops and starts, and worst of all, it has none of the magic and intrigue of the art that's meant to accompany it. Maybe in the hand
Sue Smith
Apr 20, 2011 Sue Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at the perpetually fascinating obsession of faeries and such magic folk. Clever photography to make things seem even more enticingly real (to those that want to believe) and a innovative journalling format help to make this book seem like it's the real MacCoy!! I really loved the depth of 'deception' of the story .... and how the pictures really make it even more convincing.
This book sure is creepy, but in a really good way. The use of photography makes you forget you are reading a work of fiction and the eerie setting for the story calls back an almost primal feeling that permeates the entire book. While I was reading it, it didn't feel like I was sitting in my dining room, it felt like I was curled up under an old oak tree and I could almost smell the must and earth. Incredible. Not sure that this will even remotely appeal to children, but I sure liked it!
Edwina Callan
Jun 27, 2013 Edwina Callan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2013
I simply adored this magical work of whimsy about the wee fairy folk and highly recommend it to anyone who is not afraid to walk alone through the dark woods or go exploring in an abandoned mine.
I wanted to get lost inside several of the photographs and would love to find a "gateway stone" of my very own.
My inner child was highly entertained by this book ... yours will be also.
Neil Coulter
Dec 20, 2015 Neil Coulter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a book in which great care was taken with every aspect--except the writing. Unfortunately, that ruins the whole project, even though the look of the design and layout is very appealing. In fact it was the appearance that drew me to the book when I noticed it on the shelf in the public library. I had never heard of The Mystery of the Fool and the Vanisher, but I grabbed it and added it to the check-out pile, hoping it would turn out to be a good find. The vintage-styled photographs are ni ...more
Aug 25, 2008 Becky rated it liked it

Ellwand, David and Ruth. 2008. The Mystery of the Fool & The Vanisher.

At just a little over a hundred pages, The Mystery of the Fool & The Vanisher is a perfect way to begin Carl's R.I.P. Challenge. The book evokes all these deliciously dark and creepy vibes. It's a mood piece, really, when I come to think of it. First, it's a work of fiction. I state this clearly because it is one of those works that presents itself like a journal. In this case, it would be a journal within a journal. O
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
This book does not really fit neatly into any category or genre. It's a fake nonfiction and fakumentary. I was really intrigued and enjoyed the book all the way -- until the disappointing ending -- it just... ended. Yes, I know, it is supposed to be "mysterious" but it reads more like that ending of the 3rd Matrix movie: everything has been intriguing and mysterious and it builds up the anticipation of the audience/reader, thinking that something big, enlightening, or some form of epiphany await ...more
Nov 09, 2009 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I accidentally discovered this book when I was browsing through the Children's section of the bookstore. I've already told myself that I was just there to browse for the day and not to buy anything when the cover caught my eye.

At first I thought it was a ghost story and I was wondering why it was in the children's section in the first place (right beside the coloring books and the dinosaur books). I read the jacket and was pleasantly surprised to find out it was about Faeries. Yup, that one wor
Jun 29, 2012 Dustin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I came across this wonderful little book while on my daily routine at the store in the bargain bin. What drew me in were the gorgeous photographs and the rather interesting premise! I didn't intend to start the book until the weekend but after two pages, I couldn't put it down and ended up reading the whole thing in one nite (granted it's only a 104 pgs). It has got to be one of the strangest and involving books I've read in quite some time. It also had me a little bit creeped out! I think the o ...more
Oct 19, 2008 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strange and haunting book.
I'm super curious now to see the other books this husband and wife team have created.
This is of course, fiction. But the photography lends an eerie sense of reality to the story. If you enjoy stories about the fae ... this is one not to miss.

Loved this line from page 24 ... "When the lid opened, the sweet smell of age, like an old library, was the first thing I noticed."

PS Don't stick with my review. Go back to the book's page and look for Elizabeth Bird's revie
I read through this whole book thinking it was called The Mystery of the Fool and the Wanderer. Hmmmm...I must have had some faery spell cast o'er me the entire time this book was in my reading possession. Perhaps some pixies wandered into my ear and whispered confusing thoughts. Yes, that must be it.

The book was eerie; it felt like I'd read it several years ago, and several years ago before that. Some of the text was a bit tedious, but it kept going, so I kept reading. The photographs and 'art
Oct 10, 2014 Aimie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and atmospheric book. The hauntingly beautiful photography creates a sense of magic and mystery, setting the mood perfectly. The layout, use of typography and colour design is aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eye. The whole book has a very mystical tone and the story has lingered in my mind ever since. I've lived by and been going to the South Downs ever since I was little. It has always felt like a magical place to explore and venture through, and that's probably why I love ...more
Wicked cool! I guess you'd call this fictional photography. The Fool & the Vanisher uses photos, illustrations, and a small amount of text to tell a story. It's a historical paranormal mystery. The highlight are the amazing images. Yes, I know they're doctored, but they're still super cool.

If you're not into spending the cash on this book and don't check out books from the library, just pick it up at your local bookstore and find a quiet spot for a minute. Reading this book takes 30 minutes
Jul 11, 2011 Yellowoasis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I just picked this up off the display near the teens section in the library and was intrigued by the photographs. I set it aside for my weekend reading and gobbled it up in one go over afternoon tea. I really liked the premise, and the photography is superb. It probably deserves a second or third reading. Initially I was disappointed that it was so short, but on reflection that allows the reader to use their imagination. Nicely done.
Apr 06, 2009 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-books
I love books that leave you wondering how much was true and how much was created by the author. In this case, photographs aid in telling the story of the mysterious trunk discovered by David Ellwand. The trunk holds the secrets of another photographer who long ago discovered the hidden world of a very real "faerie hill" in England. Eerie and compelling, this would be a great read for any lover of the mysterious or for those who still believe in a not-so-magical Faerieland...
Anita Dalton
Eh, skip the text in this book. The fairy story wore thin very quickly. Instead, absorb and peer over the photographs. In terms of literature, this book is a miss but it is visually gorgeous and interesting. So check out the pictures and manipulations and skip the words unless you are way into fairies.
Apr 04, 2011 Vivian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Where should this live in the library? 770's (books on photography)? 398.245's (books on faeries)? JF's (juvenile fiction)? YA's (young adult fiction)? The 100 pages can be read in an hour or less. My primary interest in the book were the journal dates. I was able to ascertain that my grandmother was born on a Friday.
Danielle Bertrand
Nov 03, 2013 Danielle Bertrand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found a stack of this at one of our Christmas flea markets and fell in love with the title and cover. Then I opened it to find more beautiful pictures and a very cool tale. What's real, what's not? So I bought a whole bunch and gave them as blog prizes!!
Mar 10, 2009 Ginny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of beautiful photographs, but the story is only mildly interesting, at least to me. A photographer finds a mysterious looking glass (the vanisher) through which he can see faeries. The story is pretty short, a journal inside a journal.
Sheila Ruth
Nov 09, 2008 Sheila Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and slightly creepy little story, told in the format of a journal-within-a-journal and illustrated with exquisite photographs.

Read my entire review:
Aug 08, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 4th grade - adult
Recommended to Rebecca by: Susan
Eeeeek! So cool and creepy. A journal within a journal...fairies...the English countryside...photographic art...tiny armor made of oyster shells. Give to fans of Spiderwick, or anyone who likes to piece together a story with artifacts and tidbits.
Mar 01, 2014 Roslyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Beautiful pictures that helped to tell this story. I loved to journey and intrigue. But I wanted more!!! What happens next?! The layout is unique and enjoyed the story within a story. I wanted this to be real.
Nov 25, 2008 Eliza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cool photos.
Oct 31, 2011 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy reading this alot. It's a book I want to keep and reread it.
Oct 19, 2008 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zoe and I loved this book, it has great pictures and a intense undertone to the story. It's not really scary but it could be...
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Ruth Ellwand, a children's publishing specialist, previously collaborated with her husband, David, on MIDAS MOUSE. She lives with him in West Sussex, England.
More about Ruth Ellwand...

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