THE OLIVE FAIRY BOOK
By Andrew Lang, introduction by Jane Yolen (The Folio Society, 272 pages, $84.95)
Yes, $85 is a lot of money to spend for a collection of stories that are also available for less than $10 in paperback -- or free on Kindle. But oh, this book is lovely. And oh, how it immerses the reader in the magical world of fairy tales the way an all-digital e-file never could. The Folio Society has long been known for making beautiful editions of classic books, and they have been releasing Andrew Lang's colored fairy tale collections -- crimson, yellow, blue, brown -- for the past several years.
This edition of "The Olive Fairy Book" is whimsical and mysterious, as befits the world of magic. It's big -- lap-sized, maybe, for a child -- but not heavy. It's slipcased in a dark-red box. The book jacket is embossed, olive and red, and the endpapers are olive and gold. New (but old-fashioned) full-page illustrations by English artist Kate Baylay are entrancing -- maidens with long, rippling hair, star-studded night skies, bloodthirsty tigers, heart-shaped apples, mysterious onion-domed castles in the distance.
The stories collected here are from all over the world -- France, India, Turkey and beyond. "It is my wish that children should be allowed to choose their own book," Lang writes in his preface to the original edition. "Let their friends give them the money and turn them loose in the book shops!"
It is hard to imagine a child who would not make a beeline to this one. LAURIE HERTZEL, books editor
SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE
By Graham Joyce (Doubleday, 320 pages, $24.95)
Christmas Day brings a knock on the door of the Martin family, and there stands Tara Martin, missing for 20 years and presumed dead. Her parents rejoice and refuse to press her for answers on where she has been since she disappeared into a dense forest near their town in England. Her brother, Peter, suspiciously wonders why Tara, a teen when he last saw her, doesn't appear to have aged. He immediately rejects her quick explanation of having been traveling around the world and sets Tara up with psychiatrist appointments. Tara's boyfriend, Ritchie, who was a suspect in her disappearance, sees her return as an opportunity to regain the love of his life. He's been adrift since she disappeared and dogged by the cloud of suspicion. Author Graham Joyce reveals Tara's story gradually, through her conversations with her doctor. Meanwhile, we see how lives of the people Tara loves are changed by her return, some for the better, others not. The novel is part fantasy, part thriller, and completely enjoyable.JUDY ROMANOWICH SMITH, news designer