“Beautiful collections of rich folk tales and fairy tales.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Claire Fayers’ Welsh Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends is a brilliant collection of stories from Welsh folklore and history, answering questions like ‘Why does the Welsh flag have a dragon on it?”, “How did the town of Beddgerlet get its name?”, and “What’s the origin of the devil’s bridge?”
The book opens with an introduction from the author which explains where many of the stories were sourced from, and offers further reading for those interested in reading even more Welsh folktales. Many of the re-tellings in this collection for example are from the most famous collection of Welsh stories called the Mabinogion.
Following the introduction, Fayers offers the reader a quick guide to Welsh pronunciation, which is particularly useful to English speakers. The author explains how various letter combinations are pronounced in Welsh (e.g. dd – is like the “th” in “breathe”). What’s more, she also breaks down phonetically how to pronounce specific words and names that appear within each story, making the tales a much easier read for those who don’t speak Welsh.
Claire Fayers’ re-tellings of each Welsh story are relatively short and concise, easy to read and well-written. In one case, Fayers even provides two different versions of the same story, allowing the reader to choose their favourite. What’s more, many of the stories in this book are linked and feature the same characters which provides the reader with a through line from the start of the book to the end.
These are tales of magic, mystery, cunning, and legend, and while they are written for young audiences, these myths provide great reads for all ages. Having recently visited Cardigan Bay (where I purchased this lovely book), I particularly enjoyed the story entitled ‘The Drowned Land’ (or in Welsh Y Wlad o Dan Dŵr) as I had seen many references – including bells and the petrified forest – to a land that now lies beneath the sea and waves, and Claire Fayers gives a re-telling of one of the stories that explains what happened to this land.
Claire Fayers’ Welsh Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends is a stunning collection of re-tellings – bound in a beautiful new edition with cover art by David Wardle – that provides readers with a great gateway into Welsh stories, and a delightful souvenir from a holiday in the country.
Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog
Added 17th November 2021