“Fay” by Stephen Moore: story, themes and landscape

‘Thomas, I’ve seen her again…the faerie! She’s in one of the gardens of the empty houses. At the back of Lesbury Terrace.’ Jenny Flynn was looking horribly serious again.

‘What? Oh, ha, ha, ha! Don’t make me laugh! A faerie at the bottom of a garden?’

‘But it’s true, Thomas. It’s true…’

Do you believe in faeries? Dangerous, real live, flesh and blood faeries? Thomas Dobson doesn’t. When the local glassworks closes down and the workers lose their jobs he thinks it’s just bad luck. When developers move in and bulldoze his favourite playground – the garden allotments that are his dad’s pride and joy – he thinks it’s just one of those things. When people get hurt, go missing and worse, it’s just the way things are. It’s got nothing to do with silly faeries…But what if he’s wrong?
Maybe it’s time to start believing.

And so, reads the blurb I originally wrote for the first edition of, FAY. As far as Thomas Dobson and Jenny Flynn are concerned, FAY is a simple fairytale. But a fairytale with a real, live faerie: a dryad, whose tree is bulldozed by workmen. Unfortunately, damaging the tree, damages Fay. Ultimately, its death will bring about her death. And a dying faerie is a dangerous wild creature. The children come to believe that to save their village from disaster, it’s up to them to save Fay, if only they knew how…

FAY is a simple quest then, and its story can be enjoyed for just that. Then again, is it really such a simple tale?

The action takes place in an urban post-industrial village, Oldburn, an ex-mining village that has just lost its last large employer with the closure of the local glassworks. And worse, with the promise of new development, it’s suddenly a community threatened with the loss of its own identity. What the village sees when Fay emerges from the wreck of her damaged tree, is the personification of their troubles. She is the cause; and the symbol of the changes thrust upon them. She is to blame. Intriguingly, almost everyone who sees Fay sees her quite differently, depending upon their point of view. At once, she’s a scruffy teenage girl, or an ugly old hag. She’s a beautiful young woman, a dubious stranger, or a threat. What she is not is a faerie…

There are other symbols at work here, too. Such as the image of the towering, but long redundant, eighteenth century glasshouse cone…the only remnant of the glassworks saved from the bulldozer. And, as you’ll often find in my work, I have created a make-believe world out of the elements of a real landscape. Its fictional geography belongs to the North East of England. The glasshouse cone, for one, exists and stands upon the banks of the River Tyne.

FAY then, is magic realism, and is perhaps more firmly grounded than some of my fantasy adventures. First published in 2006, it’s a book that has appealed to all readers, from the age of about ten, up.

So, I’ll ask you once again…Do you believe in faeries?


Fay by Stephen          Moore

Suggested Readership: Older Children / Young Adult


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