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3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  2,875 Ratings  ·  311 Reviews
Lud-in-the-Mist, the capital city of the small country Dorimare, is a port at the confluence of two rivers, the Dapple and the Dawl. The Dapple has its origin beyond the Debatable Hills to the west of Lud-in-the-Mist, in Fairyland. In the clays of Duke Aubrey, some centuries earlier, fairy things had been looked upon with reverence, and fairy fruit was brought down the Dapp ...more
Paperback, 239 pages
Published March 22nd 2005 by Cold Spring Press (first published 1926)
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank BaumDracula by Bram StokerPeter Pan by J.M. BarrieThe King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
Pre-Tolkien Fantasy
16th out of 226 books — 203 voters
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope MirrleesThe King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord DunsanyLilith by George MacDonaldPhantastes by George MacDonaldThe Song of Rhiannon by Evangeline Walton
Ballantine Adult Fantasy series
1st out of 65 books — 23 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 02, 2009 Sandi rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2009
30-odd years before Tolkein published “The Lord of the Rings”, a British woman named Hope Mirrlees wrote a fantasy called “Lud-in-the-Mist”. Neil Gaiman wrote an introduction to the edition I read and I can see that he meant every word. His own “Stardust” draws very heavily on “Lud-in-the-Mist”, especially in setting and tone. Other recent novels that are reminiscent of “Lud-in-the-Mist” are “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susannah Clarke and “Little, Big” by John Crowley. They all share ...more
Jan 16, 2009 reed rated it really liked it
Neil Gaiman raved about this book, so I read it. I wish I could have read it without knowing anything about it -- but I still liked it. It was written in the 1920's -- before fantasy tropes were so set in stone -- so it goes in directions you don't expect it to. Also, it's as though the author never heard of the idea that fantasy is a juvenile and disreputable genre, so she takes herself and her book seriously and uses fantasy to explore real and important ideas.
Kate Sherrod
May 12, 2015 Kate Sherrod rated it it was amazing
Of course, I come to this novel via Tim Powers, who quoted it quite tantalizingly and memorably in Last Call as one to which Scott Crane and his late wife often referred in their intimate shorthand with one another. At one point Susan's ghost, or at least the chthonic spirt-of-alcohol that is impersonating Susan refers to "a blackish canary" ("canary" as in the sense of "a shade of yellow" rather than that of the bird of that name) as a way of commenting on Scott's refusal to grasp what is reall ...more
Sep 07, 2016 Nikki rated it it was amazing
I’ve been meaning to read Lud-in-the-Mist for ages and ages, and I don’t know why I didn’t get round to it sooner. It is classic fantasy; more like Lord Dunsany’s work than anything modern, though maybe Patricia McKillip might be a spiritual successor in some ways. The prose is glorious; it just feels warm and vivid, though honey-tinged in colour. I felt, reading it, like I could see the city of Lud; like I knew something of the dreams of its people, even if their daily lives were perhaps a litt ...more
Jenna St Hilaire
This is a tale of the relationship between Fairyland and ordinary life, which puts it at the heart of my favorite storytelling traditions. Born during the late lifetime of fellow countryman George MacDonald (relevant works: Phantastes, Lilith), and just thirteen years younger than G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy), Mirrlees seems to write under the guidance of the same muse that led them. It wouldn't surprise me if she were directly influenced by either one or both; nor would it surprise me if, like b ...more
I don't think I'm well-read enough to review this book -- as is the case with many British writers of that period, Mirrlees is far better classically educated than I am, and I'm sure I missed quite a few of her references. However, I now firmly agree with Neil Gaiman that this is "the single most beautiful, solid, unearthly, and unjustifiably forgotten novel of the twentieth century" so I felt I should attempt to review it here in the hopes that I get a few more people to seek it out.

This is mos
Randolph Carter
Jun 14, 2016 Randolph Carter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy, owned
I'm not a big fan of this sort of fantasy. It's a good read as this thing goes, just not my kind of stuff. Whimsical fairy tale with a bit of a grim side to it that is hard to categorize. Probably a bit of an influence on authors like Neil Gaiman. Nod and a wink kind of stuff that is charming and sly at the same time.
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 19, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The people of Lud were...well, "Luddites". This book I read long ago and it is by turns very sad, very funny, and always mind tickling. This is one of those..if you can find it, "must reads" of fantasy. Of course some will disagree with me...but I'd say if you get the chance, read it.
Eric Orchard
Jul 11, 2010 Eric Orchard rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All fans of Faerie fantasies.
Recommended to Eric by: Neil Gaiman ( through blurbs and interviews )
I can't believe it took me so long to read this! It's a classic fantasy novel, totally essential to anyone who loves this type of book. After reading this book, it seems that there's a whole tradition of literature descended directly from this story. Unlike Tolkien ( who I love ) this is a more modern take on folklore and human nature but at the same time it reaches back far into primal things. I can really see where writers like Neil Gaiman and Suzanne Clarke are coming from.
Olga Godim
Dec 04, 2013 Olga Godim added it
Recommends it for: lovers of good old English
Shelves: did-not-finish
I’ve been thinking: why couldn’t I finish this book, why did I get so bored? Now I know – because I couldn’t care for any of the characters. None was sympathetic. None inspired me to like him or her, even a little bit. In that, this book resembled a satire, but it wasn’t sufficiently funny either. It also read like a huge metaphor, but I didn’t like what I was seeing in it. Too close to home, I suppose.
And it was too slow. I stopped reading on page 85, when still nothing happened, just lots of t
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
An obscure fantasy classic, if that isn’t too much of an oxymoron. This little gem was first published in 1926, then re-released in 2005 with a beautiful cover (and too many typos – I have no patience for publishers milking a dead author’s work without bothering to copyedit, even if they do have great cover artists).

Lud-in-the-Mist is set in a fictional land reminiscent of pre-industrial England; it feels like a precursor to Tolkien’s Shire. Of all the modern fantasy I’ve read, the book that fee
Zen Cho
Aug 14, 2009 Zen Cho rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff
ahhhh this rocked!!! It's funny how this mostly takes place in the Real World (as opposed to Fairyland) and Neil Gaiman's Stardust mostly takes place in Fairyland (not the Real World), and yet there is more magic in a single serif on any letter of any word on any page of Lud-in-the-Mist than there is in the ENTIRE BOOK of Stardust.

I should note that its handling of race is weird -- Tolkien-style "all the non-white people are from somewhere else". Indigo people appear to be the world's analogue f
Dec 08, 2015 Tehanu rated it really liked it
I can't believe this book was written in 1926. It doesn't feel that old.
I have just finished it and I still have some doubts about the events leading towards the end. I might have to think about that for a while.
All in all, it was a really enjoyable read. The kind of read that has all the elements that I love.
Favorite? Perhaps... let it breathe for a while first.
Nazmul Hasan
Dec 24, 2015 Nazmul Hasan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-fantasy
A work of art. Read it. NOW
Aug 01, 2014 Cara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of my favorite books. The writing is so masterful - subtle, sly, terrifying, funny, precise. Mirrlees is a prime example of a female genius whose ideas and techniques were appropriated by other (male) writers and overshadowed by the academic "canon."

It's one of those books that literally leaves you open-mouthed by the consistent bad-assedness of its social satire and linguistic invention. One of those books whose enjoyment is only tainted by your realization that the writer had been poorly r
Sep 04, 2012 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A sweet and simple book that has a lot more to it than meets the eye.

I'm not too high and mighty to admit that I bought this because Neil Gaiman recommended it. He has an undeniably good nose for classics, and his taste is clearly similar to mine, despite all the issues I have with his writing.

Mirrlees writes beautifully, lightly, intelligently, with great vision and simple, evocative prose. She has the subtle skill that I admire so strongly in Diana Wynne Jones of describing a sense, or a thoug
AvalinahsBooks | Evelina
Nov 22, 2014 AvalinahsBooks | Evelina rated it really liked it
This book is full of parables that you can feel the essence of, but never quite get with your conscious mind. But same as how in the book it's told that the characters understood certain things not with their mind but somehow differently, you understand it as well, without really understanding it. It's like remembering a dream after waking up - somehow it all makes sense, although nothing really does, and things can't be arranged in order at all, happening simultaneously but at the same time one ...more
Jan 07, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairy tale for adults. Both serious and light, this is a story that works on more than one level. The surface narrative is an intriguing story and mystery that gradually builds tension and is delivered with a pleasant, leisurely prose style. But also the author is trying to say something about society and the meaning of life.

Stylistically, I found echoes of this in Jack Vance's "Lyonesse" books. Certainly I think if you liked one then you'll like the other. But don't read this if you want more
Jul 05, 2011 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lud-in-the-Mist is a bucolic country village on the borders of Faerie. But respectable people don't like to talk about their questionable neighbors. Nathaniel Chanticleer is the mayor of Lud, at least until the influence of Faerie begins to affect his own family.

This is a difficult book to classify -- it's a fantasy, certainly, but with almost no overtly fantastic elements; Faerie remains firmly on the other side of the border. The story itself, once it begins to unfold, resembles a mystery more
Aug 06, 2014 Lydia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the most beautiful, true fairy-stories I have ever read. I'd put it on a level with At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald, and more recently, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke.
Edward Butler
Aug 23, 2007 Edward Butler rated it it was amazing
A truly unique book, unlike any other fantasy novel I have read. Dreamlike, outlandish yet never self-indulgent or uncontrolled. Not to every taste, to be sure, but an indisputable accomplishment.

D.M. Dutcher
Oct 13, 2012 D.M. Dutcher rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, classic
It's a dreamy book, but it's confused in what it wants to be, and in the nature of fairyland.

Nathaniel Chanticleer is a village mayor in the town of Lud-in-the-mist. Lud is on the border between the real world and the fairy one, but the townspeople have prohibited and stigmatized most dealings with fairies to the point of them being used as curse words. But all isn't that well, as Chanticleer is haunted by the sound of a mystical note, and his children might be eating the fairy fruit...

It's a d
Jul 10, 2007 Sean rated it liked it
Lud-in-the-Mist comes highly recommended, first by the situation of its author (Mirlees was an intimate of Woolf and Eliot, and they both praised some of her work) and second by a number of modern authors who claim that it is a forgotten fantasy masterpiece.

Unfortunately, it is merely okay. I realize that many people think it unfair to judge a book by modern standards, but that's exactly the standard that I have for books I read—and there are any number of truly classic novels that can stand up
Oct 03, 2013 Puna rated it liked it
Recommends it for: logophiles, wordsmiths, dreamers of dreams
Hope Mirrlees’ novel, Lud-in-the-Mist, had me waffling on my star rating throughout its entirety, often within the space of just a few paragraphs. The main problem was that as a story categorized to be of the “fantasy” genre, I had a certain amount of preconceived expectations from the plot, none of which were actualized. I’ve also become used to a certain quality of action in fantasy novels which was severely lacking in Mirrlees’ book. It’s not that there wasn’t any action at all, but more so t ...more
Sep 17, 2016 LPG rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lud-In-The-Mist has stuck in my mind like soft, dreamy taffy.

It's a perfect example of a book I would have never found without Goodreads. It has it all: pre-Tolkien genre concepts, fantasy that leans more towards the faerie than the fairy, and a comfortingly British cast to follow.

The story is very rote Enid Blyton stuff. Taboo fairy fruit keeps finding its way into the city. People eat the fruit & go slightly batty. Our distinctly British heroes must find out how and why. There's a mysteri
Mary Catelli
A fantasy tale predating The Lord of the Rings by decades. . . .

Lud-In-the-Mists is the capital of Dorimare, a prosperous country that bordered on Fairyland, and once upon a time had been a duchy before they revolted at the last one's caprice and destructiveness. Now it was ruled by a wealthy merchant class and very content they were, having prohibited any dealings with Fairyland at all -- particularly with its fruit, which has a peculiar effect on those who eat it, who are never content after w
Lindsay Stares
Jul 05, 2010 Lindsay Stares rated it it was ok
Shelves: own-hard-copy
*Dear other reviewers: Neil Gaiman is paid to review books/write blurbs, intros, etc. Don't put too much stake in his reported opinion. (Or, I would say, in his opinion, but that's a separate matter.) Stardust is much more based on The King of Elfland's Daughter, which was written two years before Lud-in-the-Mist, and Gaiman ALSO wrote the intro for the new edition of that book, and it is a much better book.*

The synopsis of the premise said that “the law-abiding inhabitants of Lud-in-the-Mist...
Mar 01, 2009 Ryan rated it did not like it
The people of Lud-in-the-Mist enjoy their steady, structured lives, and fear the mystical stories of the mischievous Faeries who live in the West, and especially fear the influence of their magical Fairy Fruit, which can supposedly turn the most able-minded citizen who eats it into a poetic, quixotic, and babbling lunatic. When the Mayor of Lud-in-the-Mist, Master Nathaniel Chanticleer, discovers that his own son has eaten this forbidden fairy fruit, he must unravel the mystery of how this contr ...more
Aug 01, 2013 Jenevieve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-books
Read this and all my other reviews at Jena's Book Reviews

Lud-in-the-Mist is a sleep little town nestled between two rivers and between the sea and the hills that lead to Fairyland. Not much happens there and that's just the way the residents like it. Master Nathaniel Chanticleer has been there the whole 50yrs of his life as part of a very respectable and long established family and foresees ending his days there and having his son, Ranulph, take over the family home when he dies. But then Ranulp
Jun 11, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I discovered this book on a Flavorwire list that chronicled some under-the-radar fantasy novels. Then I discovered Neal Gaiman's glowing opinion of it, so I decided to check it out.

First of all, it's beautifully written. Mirrlees has a very rich, very English method to her prose. This, coupled with a unabashedly fantastical tale about a quiet town turned upside down by the smuggling of forbidden fairy fruit, makes for a unique literary experience. Lud-in-the-Mist is a town that has been closely
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Hope Mirrlees was a British translator, poet and novelist. She is best known for the 1926 Lud-in-the-Mist, a fantasy novel and influential classic, and for Paris: A Poem, a modernist poem.
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“Reason I know, is only a drug, and, as such, its effects are never permanent. But, like the juice of the poppy, it often gives a temporary relief.” 17 likes
“A house with old furniture has no need of ghosts to be haunted.” 17 likes
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