Friday 22 July 2016

Four lovely reviews for Steel Thistles!

A quick post to highlight four lovely reviews of 'Seven Miles of Steel Thistles' (the book) which as many of you will know, is a collection of some of my essays on folk-lore and fairy tales. Do please excuse me as I jump up and down!

The most recent comes from Kevin Crossley-Holland, poet, author, and translator of Anglo-Saxon texts such as 'Beowulf' and the 'Exeter Riddle Book'.  He writes:

Katherine Langrish is a wonderful companion for an excursion into the otherworld of traditional tales.  Highly readable, sharply perceptive about individual tales as well as engaging with wider motifs, this book is always down-to-earth, no matter how high flown the subject matter.  We know we're in safe hands when we're invited  to consider why folk-tale fools and saints can be rather frightening, or to take account of who is telling a story and why, to reflect on how some reports of ghostly happenings (as opposed to structured stories) are almost impossible to discount, and to recognise the role of princesses in fairy tales ('They tell us to be active, to use our wits, to be undaunted, to see what we want and to go for it.')  The book is so generously furnished with apt quotations as to seem at times almost like an anthology, and it will appeal to absolutely everyone fascinated by the staying power of folk tales, fairy tales and ballads. 'Seven Miles of Steel Thistles' is a fine book with a long life ahead of it.

Writer, editor and artist Terri Windling, reviewing the book on her blog Myth and Moor, wrote:

One of the very best books I've read this year is Seven Miles of Steel Thistles: Reflections on Fairy Tales by Katherine Langrish, the author of West of the Moon and other excellent works of myth-based fantasy for children.

Now while I might seem biased because Katherine is a family friend (her daughter and ours have been best friends for many years), in truth I am sharply opinionated when it comes to books about folklore and fairy tales; I was mentored in the field by Jane Yolen, after all, which sets the bar pretty damn high. Thus it is no small praise to say that Seven Miles of Steel Thistles is an essential book for practioners of mythic arts: insightful, reliable, packed with information...and thoroughly enchanting.

The whole review can be found here.

A third is from award-winning YA and children's author Linda Newbery.  Here's part of what she has to say:

Katherine Langrish draws on her life-long enjoyment and appreciation of traditional tales, and her book combines wide reading and scholarship with personal insights and interpretations... Her book ranges widely, from Canadian Mi’kmaq stories to Japanese kitsune, Shakespeare’s fools and Alan Garner’s owl plates, with, of course, the Celtic and Norse mythology which is woven through Langrish’s own fiction. She is a most engaging companion – informed, curious and perceptive - and I highly recommend her book to students of the genre as well as to anyone who enjoys good stories and good writing.

You can read the whole review here:

Last but certainly not least, here's praise from the critic Nicholas Lezard in his weekly column for the Guardian:

What [Langrish] has done so brilliantly, either making general points or addressing specific stories or themes, is tell us stories about the stories: where they might have come from, what they might mean, or whether they are meant to mean anything. (Of faeryland, that “other place” which is neither the world, heaven, purgatory or hell, from where those we thought dead might, very rarely, be rescued, she says: “This is the fantasy of grief,” and I have never heard a better explanation.) It is all spun out so seemingly artlessly, or naturally, that you feel as if you are sitting cross-legged, gripped, like a child hearing one of these stories for the first time.

Read the whole review here:

You couldn't wish for lovelier comments or more perceptive readers, and I'm very happy and thrilled. Seven Miles of Steel Thistles was published by the Greystones Press at the end of April, and is available from Amazon in paperback (here) and as an e-book (here).  It's also available in paperback from (here).  (As indeed are all my other books.)  Finally, those living outside the UK can order copies from the Book Depository, which offers free delivery worldwide, here!

Right, that's the commercial over. Thankyou for your patience and thankyou even more to all the lovely people who've bought copies already.  Where would I be without readers?

Picture credits

Illustrations of some of the fairy tales mentioned in the book: 

The Juniper Tree by Kay Nielsen
Undine by Arthur Rackham
Mr Fox by John D Batten



  1. Well deserved. I've been recommending it all over the place!

  2. You couldn't wish for lovelier comments but I agree with Leslie - everyone is well deserved. Seven Miles has been a joy for folk-lore lovers since it began.

  3. Well done, Katherine! And congratulations. Is it available from iBooks? I do have a Kimdle app, but I much prefer my ePub books for various reasons.

  4. I'm such an ignoramus, Sue, I don't know the difference, I'm so sorry! I can ask Mary Hoffman the publisher, but my belief is - just Kindle.

  5. Sigh! Yes, I looked. Not on iBooks. Pity. Kindle is run by Amazon. And I very rarely buy anything from Amazon. iBooks lets you buy via an iTunes card so you don't have to give your card details. I HATE doing that. I also prefer the layout of iBooks publications. And Amazon keeps sending me advertising materials. iBooks doesn't.

  6. Does it have to to be an e-book, Sue? You can order a paperback postage free via the Book Depository - I think I put the link at the bottom of the post. (Of course the paperback is dearer than an ebook, though.)