The Out of Print Collection: Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
My newest Out of Print title, Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees.
Coming to the shop on February 1st at 10am CST:
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
Lud-in-the-Mist is an early fantasy novel, published in 1926. I had never even heard of it until last summer, when I was reading an obscure scholarly analysis on Tolkien. The author of said analysis briefly mentioned Lud-in-the-Mist as being one of the fore-runners of the modern fantasy genre – my ears perked up. I immediately googled it, found out that it was in the public domain, that hardly any publishers are currently printing it, and that there are very few copies of it currently available on the market. So I jotted it down as a contender for my Out of Print Collection!
And boy – am I so glad I did. This book will go down as one of my all time favorite novels, and I will assuredly return it again and again, whenever I’m in need of some whimsy. The story was gripping, the writing magical, and the characters so quirky and fun to follow. As an early fantasy novel, it does look a little different than its modern counterparts; while it has the expected fantastical elements, it is framed in a mystery/detective style narrative, which is an unexpected and refreshing change of pace!
Hope Mirrlees (1887-1978) was a British translator, poet, and novelist. Lud-in-the-Mist was her third and final novel, published in 1926. This book is proof that there were great fantasy novels before Tolkien came onto the scene – Mirrlees’s way of balancing the mundane and the miraculous, the serious and the comic, in this fantastical book, sets it down as one of the greatest fantasies of the early 1900s. It was written considerably before the existence of fantasy as a marketing genre; therefore, it was seen as unusual and has been rarely noticed and seldom reprinted. In 1970 an American reprint was published without the author’s permission (Ballantine attempted to find the author, but their attempt was unsuccessful). Mirrlees died in 1978, and the book passed into the public domain in 2021. Neil Gaiman was greatly inspired by the work, citing it as “the single most beautiful, solid, unearthly, and unjustifiably forgotten novel of the twentieth century.”
“And this is but another proof that the Written Word is a Fairy, as mocking and elusive as Willy Wisp, speaking lying words to us in a feigned voice. So let all readers of books take warning!”
Lud-in-the-Mist is a verdant country town cradled by two rivers, the Dapple and the Dawl. The Dapple begins beyond the hills, in Fairyland. Long, long ago, fairy things had been looked upon with reverence, and fairy fruit enjoyed by the citizens of the Lud-in-the-Mist. But it is now a crime to consume the fruit, and anything related to Fairyland is unspeakable. When the mayor’s son falls sick and is believed to have eaten the forbidden fruit, a mystery unfolds and an adventure ensues.
Published 30 years before Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Lud-in-the-Mist played a large role in the establishment of the modern fantasy genre. Neil Gaiman was greatly inspired by the work, citing it as “the single most beautiful, solid, unearthly, and unjustifiably forgotten novel of the twentieth century.”
This exciting title is now available with beautiful cover art by Haleigh DeRocher, found exclusively at sweetsequels.com.