Ann's Reviews > Lud-in-the-Mist

Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
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's review
Apr 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: esoterica

Hope Mirrlees is an often overlooked writer of fantasy. I found this book to be interesting, but if you are looking for a page-turner this isn't the book. The story is meted out like straw on a lazy brook.
There in a the small village of Lud in the Mist in the country of Dorimare lives Mayor and High Senechal Nathaniel Chanticlee. He and most of the citizens of the place have languished in inattention in the peaceful beauty of their town where the Dapple and Dawl rivers meet. The terrifying history of Lord Aubrey and the fairy world is all but forgotten.
Still, old nurses remember and pass on bit of the ancient spelled and delusional life to children via their stories and old habits. All is deemed harmless nonsense in modern Lud. Still, the citizens unknowingly carry fantastical fairy names, and are all too mindful of the ancient plague of Fairy Fruit, which drives people to madness or joy by turns. A strange, but highly effective Doctor Endymion Leer arrives on the scene. Nathaniel is possessed of a most haunting fear in the seeing and hearing of ordinary things, the feat he calls the NOTE. His outward appearance to the contrairy, he's plagued by a creeping doom. Dr. Leer promises to make it right.
Trouble comes as it will. Nathaniel's son Ranulph is suddenly possessed by madness; and it is suspected that he has somehow eaten Fairy Fruit being smuggled into Lud. Thus, the mystery begins.
The story contains much of the fairy lore of the ages- both good and bad. Sacred objects, stone of Hermes lovingly rubbed, walking dead, spirits of herbs and plants, descriptions of nature that is lush worshipful poetry. You may see forshadowing of great poets such as Eliot.
One is presented in the book with class struggle, the conflict of life and art, world of trade and the factory vs. the seductive world of dreams. Is there a healthy balance between the mundane and miraculous; the outer and inner self? Is there right nourishment for the souls of men, a higher spiritual destiny? What is the cost of banishing Fairyland altogether?

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