This just in! My partner, the phenomenally talented Jolene Dawe, has just released her long-awaited book The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales, an enchanting collection of short stories inspired by the breathtakingly beautiful and often downright weird Willamette Valley, the little slice of Oregon we call home.
Jo’s dedication reads simply “For the spirits of this place,” and this volume (a respectable-sized one, at 246 pages) is filled with spirits of all sizes, shapes and intentions: the eccentric and colorful guardians of an even more eccentric Pacific Northwest city; a southwestern cadejo (mischievous spirit dog) on a quest to rescue his best friend, a weretiger; a stranded woman who falls under the spell of a mysterious creature of the woods; a harried shopgirl charmed by a chance encounter with a man literally as old as the hills; a bullied child who receives help from an unlikely source; a bard who sings the praises of the Willamette River; an exiled fairy queen who dares to find love with a tormented mortal girl (the novella-length story of the title); a crow in search of a human nanny for his offspring; a nixie who will stop at nothing to protect her daughter; a troll who goes a bit too far in pursuit of the nymph he adores; an apathetic middle aged wife and mother who finds release and meaning as a maenad; a man who honors his grandfather’s dying wish to rest in the keeping of the supernatural being he once loved; and (my favorite tale of all) a dragon princess captivated by the prince of her peoples’ enemies…to her undoing.
In all, there are thirteen tales, all of them centered around the offbeat little city of Eugene, Oregon and its environs, each one more darkly shimmering and spellbinding than the last. At turns humorous, lyrical, compelling and insightful, Jo’s sure storytelling hand and deft prose weave an enchantment as thick as the woods surrounding the butte itself (which, by the way, is the Willamette Valley’s highest point, a craggy peak surrounded by primeval forest). But be sure to leave yourself a trail of silvery stones–to catch the moonlight and mark your trail– as you wend your way into these deep, dark woods, because we all know what happens with bread crumbs: they get eaten by the crows!
If you or someone else on your gift list loves the worlds of faerie, otherworldly beings, and sheer enchantment, treat them (or yourself) to this lush literary confection! But don’t take my word for it; you can sample the book on Jo’s blog, where she has generously provided one of my favorite stories in its entirety: right here.