Friday, January 29, 2021

Weekend Reads: Legends of Northeast Scotland by Fenton Wyness (Mary)

 Hello, everyone! I am so excited to be one of the newest writers here at Lands Uncharted!

I fell in love with folklore, legend, and mythology when I was a very little girl, after my grandmother (who lived in England nine months out of the year) brought home a book of English myths and legends. I read it secretly, because I was afraid my mom would think it was too scary for me...and she would have been right. It scared me senseless!

But through the chills and skittishness it gave me, I was completely captivated by the mystery and wonder in the stories, the idea of a fantastical world of fairies and leprechauns and ghost hounds and sunken islands, intertwining and echoing through our own world. I also loved the format - short, simply-told stories that could be read in a single sitting, reminiscent of the bedtime stories my parents often told. And although I didn't realize it at the time, those legends and folk tales had a huge influence on my own writing style and genre preferences. Some of the first short stories I ever wrote as a child were written in the style of legends.

I still have that book, left to me when my grandmother passed away. (You decide - shall I feature it in another Weekend Read post?)

Which brings me to this week's Weekend Read: Legends of Northeast Scotland by Fenton Wyness.

I found a copy of this book at a local library sale and snatched it up in the hope that it would be similar in format and feel to my grandmother's book of legends. I was not disappointed.

The book is a collection of bite-sized stories, only a few pages long each, that are completely independent of one another, creating an ideal bedtime-story format, should you wish to read one at a time over a few weeks. (Confession: I tried to do this, but got so hooked that I read the entire book in one night.) 

The stories are a wonderful array of ghost stories, forbidden romances (sometimes ending in happiness, sometimes in tragedy), missionary adventures among hostile druids, miracles, knights, witches, fairies, castles, treachery, and war. Even though the scene settings and descriptions are minimal, you can just feel the coolness of stone in castle walls, the damp loneliness of ancient forests, the eerie moaning of wind through the hills.

The stories themselves are simple and straightforward, with little to no suspense, which might sound like a turn-off to some readers, but you know...I actually kind of love it. Don't get me wrong, I love a good 500-page fantasy epic bursting with world building details and a gaggle of plots and sub-plots. But sometimes that can just be a bit...much. Sometimes I just want something simple, something with only a few characters, a single basic plot line, something I don't have to sweat or strain my brain over. Sometimes I don't want or have the energy to agonize - sometimes I just want to be told a bedtime story. These stories fit that bill perfectly.

Which I think is good for me as a writer, as well as enjoyable for me as a reader. I occasionally find myself getting so caught up and bogged down in trying to develop an incredible story world and embellish a plot with more twists and sub-plots, that I start to lose track of the story I actually set out to tell. Reading stories like these reminds me that it's okay to keep it simple and straightforward, that a story doesn't have to be complicated to be good.

Plus, much of my fantasy fiction is inspired by, influenced by, or styled after Medieval European history, so I find a lot of inspiration in stories like these.

Do you enjoy legend and folklore? What culture's mythology is your favorite?


  1. I love reading about folklore, legends and myths. Greek and Norse myths inspire me the most, but I've also read a lot about Celtic myths. I also love to read local folklore. When we visit my in-laws on the coat of North Carolina, I buy books about the folklore of the area.

    1. I do the same thing! I love buying books as souvenirs, especially from little local bookshops, and if I can find books about local history or lore that's an added bonus!


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