People As Magical as the Fairies They Encounter
A review of Tom Dawe’s Spirited Away: Fairy Stories of Old Newfoundland (Running The Goat, 2018)
By Derek Newman-Stille
A man who makes his shoe-laces out of dried eel skins, another who can make an instrument of any object he finds, an old woman who goes from house to house asking for bones, children who fear dragonflies – and these are just the human characters in Tom Dawe’s Spirited Away: Fairy Stories of Old Newfoundland. Dawe weaves together fairy tales told in Newfoundland with a bit of the eccentricities of the island, creating a dynamic set of stories. Dawe explores tales of landscapes come alive with mischief, of homes made unfamiliar by the presence of the fairies, of animals who can sense otherworldly presences, of mysterious strangers showing up to play music and just as soon disappearing, of fairy rings, and of babies hurt by fairies appearing as green butterflies.
Dawe draws on the Newfoundland Fairy Tale telling tradition, but transforms it from a primarily oral narrative tradition into a solid set of tales to entertain and intrigue. Dawe wraps these tales of the otherworldly in the realm of humans, giving context to the characters involved in a way that is rarely done in such detail in the Newfoundland Fairy Tale telling tradition.
Like most who draw on the fairy tale traditions, Dawe’s stories aren’t light and fluffy tales of encounters with magic, but frightening tales of danger, tales of angering the fairies, tales of fairy blasts, and tales of people dancing to fairy music until they collapsed.
To discover more about Spirited Away: Fairy Stories of Old Newfoundland, visit http://runningthegoat.com/spirited-away-fairy-stories-of-old-newfoundland/
To find out more about Tom Dawe, visit https://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/arts/tom-dawe.php