Seven Miles of Steel Thistles

Seven Miles of Steel Thistles written by Katherine Langrish

Steel Thistles Press

Paperback, E-Book


'Seven Miles of Steel Thistles' is a collection of essays on fairy tales and folklore, inspired by my blog of the same name but greatly rewritten and extended.  Here you can read about subjects such as fairy brides, selkies, Cú Chulainn’s geasa, water spirits, ghostly White Ladies, and the unexpected difficulties of owning an enchanted object. Where are the Lost Kings of Fairyland?  Was Cinderella really such a passive victim?  What happened when William Butler Yeats successfully summoned the Queen of the Fairies?  Is it safe to believe in fairies?  And does ‘happily ever after’ mean what you think it does?

Seven Miles of Steel Thistles


"‘Fairy tales’, writes Katherine Langrish, ‘are emotional amplifiers . . . [They] work as music does,directly on our feelings’ (197). This collection of her essays (plus three poems) illustrates the psychological subtlety and poetic force of her own responses, and will surely guide readers towards similar sensitivity. She can also, on occasion, cast light on relationships of sources and analogues, notably in her discussion of the ballad of ‘The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry’ (158–87), but her main concern is usually with the deeper themes which she perceives as underlying fairy-tale plots—such themes as time, hunger, death, and rebirth..."

"A map of the weird and wonderful realm of the folk tale, drawn up by an expert collector"

"'Seven Miles of Steel Thistles' is an essential book for practitioners of mythic arts: insightful, reliable, packed with information...and thoroughly enchanting."

Highly readable, sharply perceptive about individual tales as well as engaging with wider motifs, this book ... will appeal to absolutely everyone fascinated by the staying power of folk tales, fairy tales and ballads. A fine book with a long life ahead of it.

Katherine Langrish draws on her life-long enjoyment and appreciation of traditional tales, and combines wide reading and scholarship with personal insights and interpretations... She is a most engaging companion – informed, curious and perceptive - and I highly recommend her book to students of the genre as well as to anyone who enjoys good stories and good writing.

Throughout the book, Langrish draws attention to the captivating, enigmatic phrases and images that stud fairy-tale texts, inviting her readers to dwell on their beauty, strangeness and ambiguity.

Thoughtfully researched and lyrically written.

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