Friday, 24 September 2021

Wild Marjoram Tea

Wyrd Britain reviews Wild Marjoram Tea by Sylvia Littlegood-Briggs from Broodcomb Press.
Sylvia Littlegood-Briggs
Broodcomb Press

May your pockets be deep in dust,
for each mote is a star, little one,
and your right pocket holds one world
and your left holds another.
Wild Marjoram Tea is one of the standalone texts that grow out of the peninsula’s world of weird fiction and strange tales.
As with The Night of Turns, the new book explores folklore and folk horror, yet it is also a deeply moving exploration of growing up, change and the nature of being.
Beautiful, strange and terrifying, Wild Marjoram Tea draws on a wide range of British folklore sources – from the myriad treasures of English and Scottish song to the disquieting cruelty of legend – to create a distinctive world of unsettlement.

For this latest release from this always fascinating publisher, Jamie Walsh adopts another pseudonym, this one directly related to the story he's telling here which has a more folkloric and mythic vibe than has been apparent in much of his other writing.  With distinct echoes of Sylvia Townsend Warner's 'Kingdon of Elfin' and the rural horrors of the likes of Algernon Blackwood here Walsh explores the deep dark woods and the denizens of the strange lands beyond and below.

Polly and Tom are two kids forced together by circumstance who find common ground in exploring the land and woods of their locale.  On one such excursion they come across a house deep in the trees with an enigmatic folly like graveyard in it's garden.  Befriending the residents the two are slowly drawn into a world extra to the one they inhabit.

Whilst very much a book of the moment, particularly with the current popularity of so-called 'folk horror' but more specifically this is a book with it's roots planted in the classics of strange fiction.  It builds on the heritage of the likes of Arthur Machen's 'Shining Pyramid' (read it here), George McDonald's 'Phantastes', Lord Dunsany's 'The King of Elfland's Daughter' and Hope Mirlees' 'Lud-In-The-Mist' alongside more contemporary work like Susanna Clarke's 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell' and Robert Holdstock's 'Mythago Wood' cycle and as seems to be the case with all the Broodcomb Press books that I've read so far this proved to be an engrossing and compelling read.

Available from the publisher at the link above.


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