I’m privileged to be writing at a wonderful site this week called Speculative Faith. I’m talking about the deeper meaning of fairytales and fantasies, and why I think they are so effective in our minds and hearts – more so, many times, than any other type of fiction.
Head on over to read my post, here, and then stay a while and check out some of the other great articles and discussions on Spec Faith.
You are standing in a semi-lit wood. Ancient, twisted trees tower above you on all sides, their knots and hollows casting strange shadows at your feet. A cold, curling mist winds its way around your ankles, sending chills up your spine. Perhaps you see a swift movement from the corner of your eye – a flash of wide eyes and a tiny green cap flowing behind as a small fey creature whisks by you – but when you turn to look at it, you see only a small brown tree stump with a crowning flow of bright emerald leaves. A branch snaps like a whip and you turn quickly to see the flick of a white equestrian tail through the trees … you’re almost certain you can see a shining golden horn coming from its noble forehead.
You are in an enchanted forest. A place that can be as terrifying as it is awe-inspiring. And that chill that went up your spine just a few moments ago? It was one-part fear, but two-parts pleasure. Wasn’t it?
I’m not sure about you, but if I could choose a place in all the faerie tale worlds to visit, an enchanted forest would be my first choice. The worlds of fantasies that live in my imagination, planted there by the countless stories of such places I have been reading my entire life, can come alive when I envision such a place. Sorcerers, fairies, centaurs and unicorns, magical pools, fairy rings, mysterious caves and hidden portals – who would even try to resist?
There are endless novels and short stories that revolve around enchanted – or at the very least, mysterious – forests. And honestly, where would fairy tales and fantasy stories be without them? I have compiled a short list of a few that I highly recommend you check out.
But I want to hear from you, too … what are your favorite stories that involve (or take place in) mystical forests? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
- The Forestwife by Theresa Tomlinson (Mary is an orphan who flees into the forest seeking freedom from the nobility of Medieval England.)
- Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (Jena’s home has a magic portal that leads beyond the mysterious wood and into the Other Kingdom, a world she visits every Full Moon with her sisters and her constant companion and friend, a frog. With a sister falling in love with a dangerous creature, a father who is deathly ill, and a frog who may just be more than meets the eye … things seem to be leading toward heartbreak.)
- Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt (Young Keturah follows a hart deep into the wood beyond her home and becomes hopelessly lost, only to be found by Lord Death, who wishes to make a bargain with her she’s not certain she is capable of making.)
- Messenger by Lois Lowry (Matty serves as a messenger, communicating with villages on either side of a treacherous wood. But his village decides to close its gates and Matty must fight his way through the forest, which seems to have a mind of its own, before he is shut out forever.)
- The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis (Digory and Polly use a magical ring and find themselves in the Wood Between the Worlds, an place full of enchanted pools that each lead to a different and exciting world. #6 in the Chronicles of Narnia)
- Beauty Robin McKinley (The classic tale of Beauty and the Beast retold.)
- Phantastes by George MacDonald (A young man journeys through a world of fantasy on a quest for joy and surrender.)
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (Two pairs of star-crossed couples get lost in a magical wood only to have the fairy king Oberon tamper with their lives and loves, making everything a glorious mess.)
- Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock (The “Wood” is larger on the inside than on the outside. It contains a labyrinth of love and beauty … that just might drive you mad.**This is an adult booki, not YA)
- The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson (Sophie and Gabe flee from their parents together to the forest and the Cottage of Seven. Both are promised to others – but find their feelings for each other becoming dangerously warm.)
- On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt (Birle goes on an unexpected journey through forests and faraway kingdoms, running away from the man she was promised to wed, accompanied by a man who is not all he seems.)
- A White so Red by K. D. Jones (A retelling of the story of Snow White)
- Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (He lives in Deepwoods among wood trolls, but Twig decides to begin a quest to find where he truly belongs.)
- Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen (Scarlet poses as a boy and becomes one of Robin Hood’s thieves.)
- The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley (Classic retelling of Robin Hood by a master storyteller)