Bane, Theresa. Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology. McFarland. 2013. 428p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780786471119. pap. $75; ebk. ISBN 9781476612423. $49.99. REF
Bane (Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology; Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures) is an independent scholar/speaker/writer in the area of the supernatural. She clearly states that she is intentionally not including a stance on whether fairies have existed or exist still; the message is the mythology and history of the fey. Entries cover more than 2,000 individual fairies (Bukura e dheut, Kludde, Sjarr) and species of fairy (Danaids, Buttery Sprites, Valkyries) from around the world and across time, as well as helpful entries on the phenomenon as observed in various geographic areas (“African Fairy Lore”). Most entries range between one and three paragraphs in length; they discuss the origin and historical development of the being and close with a bibliography. The volume is well indexed and has an extensive stand-alone bibliography. Other encyclopedias on the subject do exist, often with a Celtic bent—Katharine Briggs’s Fairies in Tradition and Literature is a good example—and although Carol Rose’s Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia of the Little People is more global, it does not focus exclusively on fairies. Both Rose’s and Briggs’s works have illustrations, however—something that if included in this title, likely would have tipped it into the must-have category. VERDICT Well done. For writers, mythologists, and fairy tale lovers and scholars in high school, public, and academic libraries.
Forsyth, Mark. Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language. Berkley. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780425264379. pap. $16. REF
When people are obsessed with words, they are really obsessed with words—so much so that they want to write, or read, about them. A lot. Blogger, author, and word nerd Forsyth is so addicted that he has followed up his best-selling The Etymologicon: a Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language with this look at long-gone but oh so enticing and impressive words. Forsyth is the captain behind the logophile’s beloved blog The Inky Fool, and this title introduces readers to some of the best, weirdest, and most wonderful archaic terms, and he hopes the general public will soon slip them into conversation and bring them back to life again. Organized by time of day, the volume rousts readers out of bed in the antelucan hush, helps them jenticulate (look it up!), and prepares them for the mugwumpery of the dreary day. From waking, eating lunch, and working to commuting, sleeping, and even wooing (or fanfreluching), Forsyth’s fascinating entries employ erudite humor and playful historical anecdotes to make these dusty old words sound fresh again. In doing so, he succeeds in creating a book to be not just browsed but absorbed. VERDICT Get ready to be impressed and entertained…and amaze your friends with your newfound vocabulary as well.
Carwardine, Michael. Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records. Firefly. Nov. 2013. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9781770852693. pap. $19.95. REF
The animal kingdom is crowded with oddities, but some creatures manage to distinguish themselves by achievement and design. BBC presenter Carwardine, in conjunction with the Natural History Museum in London, has put together a selection of record holders, which eschews being comprehensive for remaining “relevant and interesting” within each animal group. The book succeeds in its aim yet still feels thorough because of the large number of animals featured. As with most titles of this nature, mammals get the bulk of the attention. Many of the records included are not of a quantifiable nature but highlight an extreme trait of an animal: the most inquisitive species, strangest nesting material, most bizarre defense. But there are also examples of individual creatures that achieved a measurable distinction: largest antlers, fastest over a short distance, longest living. Carwardine wishes to focus on the wonder of the animal kingdom and chooses not to “dwell on the plight” of endangered species. However, some of the records are a direct result of species having been pushed to the brink, and as such, the issue of endangerment is a part of the narrative. The work is organized by animal group—subdivided where appropriate by orders, families, and species—but is best enjoyed as a browsable source. The index will help readers find specific animals and records, but flipping through the pages and stumbling upon records great and small will provide the most pleasure. VERDICT Generously illustrated with color photographs, this is a solid source for animal enthusiasts and trivia aficionados alike.
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