This year I’m recording readings from The Fairy Book series by Andrew Lang and Leonora Blanche Alleyne. The first video, in which I read from ‘The Master-Maid’ is being posted here and on Patreon, while all other videos in the project will be Patreon exclusive. I hope you enjoy the story!
The Blue Fairy Book is available on Project Gutenberg if you would like to read ‘The Master-Maid’ for yourself!
The protagonist being forbidden to enter certain rooms appears in a multitude of fairy tales, including the French fairy tale ‘Bluebeard’, the Grimm fairy tale ‘The Feather Bird’ and ‘The Long Tale of the Widow and her Three Daughters’ (from Scottish Fairy Tales by Margaret Lyford-Pike). I commented that the Master-Maid herself reminded me of Bluebeard, luring and trapping the three innocent men then torturing them, but on further consideration she actually has more in common with the first titular character from ‘The Sun Princess and the Prince’ (from Folk tales From the Soviet Union: The Baltic Republics by Robert Babloyan and Mirlena Shumskaya). The Sun Princess imprisons and tortures all men who come to woo her.
The plot device of having to use a tool in a counter-intuitive way to make it work also features in ‘The White Dove’ (from A Book of Witches by Ruth Manning-Sanders). A similar though not identical trope appears in ‘Yellow Lily’ (from The Magic Lands: folk tales of Britain and Ireland by Kevin Crossley-Holland), in which the helpful maiden disregards tools altogether and uses her bare hands to get the job done.
The object that is enchanted to speak and provide misdirection is a plot device that also appears in ‘The White Dove’ (from A Book of Witches by Ruth Manning-Sanders) and ‘Katchen the Cat’ (from A Book of Cats and Creatures by Ruth Manning-Sanders), and talking drops of blood appear in the Grimm fairy tale ‘The Goose Girl’.
The pursuit, in which a pair of lovers flee an antagonist and use seemingly ordinary items that turn into magical obstacles, is in too many fairy tales for me to detail here, but the list includes ‘The Baba Yaga’ (from Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales by Angela Carter), ‘Baba Yaga’ (from Magicians and Fairies by Robert Ingpen and Molly Perham), ‘The White Dove’ (from A Book of Witches by Ruth Manning-Sanders) and ‘The Twins and the Snarling Witch’ (also from A Book of Witches).
The hero forgetting his bride upon returning home is another common plot device, appearing in the Grimm stories ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Sweetheart Roland’ and ‘The Lady and the Lion’.