Bob Curran,
A Field Guide to Irish Fairies,
illustrated by Andrew Whitsun
(Appletree, 1997; Chronicle, 1998)

Anyone going to Ireland should not be without a copy of Bob Curran's A Field Guide to Irish Fairies. How else can you avoid stumbling over the magical country's Good People and, be they old gods or fallen angels, escape their various snares and trickeries?

The pocket-sized hardback book, lovingly and colorfully illustrated by Andrew Whitsun, is a delightful testament to the fairy lore of Ireland. It's not presented as fiction or fantasy, but as a legitimate guidebook to aid prospective travelers abroad in the land.

It specifically addresses the characters and characteristics of nine otherworldly varieties, including the grogoch, the grey man, the sheerie, the pooka and the banshee. Of course the ubiquitous leprechaun gets a chapter, too. There are also briefer entries on a few additional categories of fairy, such as the butter spirit and watershee.

You'll learn from Curran which of the Gentry are malicious and which are merely mischievous. You'll learn how to dodge their tricks and ward off their glamors. You'll learn about some unfortunate mortals who failed to evade their grasp.

A Field Guide to Irish Fairies is a treat, suitable for anyone visiting Ireland or simply fascinated by its lore. The book is a short and easy read, and could well preserve readers from an unearthly fate.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 22 June 2002

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