Tuesday 29 March 2022

Book Review: The Fairy Tellers by Nicholas Jubber (Non-Fiction)

Title: The Fairy Tellers
Author: Nicholas Jubber
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey
Publication Date: 3 May 2022
Pages: 336
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

Fairy-Tales are not just fairy-tales: they are records of historical phenomena, telling us something about how Western civilisation was formed. In The Fairy-Tellers, award-winning travel-writer Nick Jubber explores their secret history of fairy-tales: the people who told them, the landscapes that forged them, and the cultures that formed them.

While there are certain names inextricably entwined with the concept of a fairy-tale, such as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, the most significant tellers are long buried under the more celebrated figures who have taken the credit for their stories - people like the Syrian storyteller Youhenna Diab and the Wild Sisters of Cassel. Without them we would never have heard of Aladdin, his Magic Lamp or the adventures of Hansel and Gretel.

Tracking these stories to their sources carries us through the steaming cities of Southern Italy and across the Mediterranean to the dust-clogged alleys of the Maghreb, under the fretting leaves of the Black Forest, deep into the tundra of Siberia and across the snowy hills of Lapland.

From North Africa and Siberia, this book illuminates the complicated relationship between Western civilization and the 'Eastern' cultures it borrowed from, and the strange lives of our long lost fairy-tellers.


The Fairy Tellers was an interesting and enjoyable read. I had heard of most of the writers mentioned, but I didn't know a lot about the background of some of them, so it was fascinating to discover a bit about their lives and how they came to write/collect their stories. The tales of these authors are told in an engaging manner, with summaries of some of their key stories interspersed between the chapters. There is also a useful bibliography if you wish to read on. This is a book sure to appeal to fans of fairytales. It gets a solid 4 stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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