Title: Essex Folk Tales
Writer: Jan Williams
Publishing House: The History Press
Date of Publication: November 30th 2011
Rating: 4 stars
‘’Essex is a place of dark secrets and haunting tales. It is a romantic county for those who have the determination to plunge into its rural heart.’’
Essex is one of the most notable and most recognizable county of the UK. Still, there is an aura of mystery around it, around its mills, its estate houses, the halls and the castles. Colchester, the Epping Forest, Maldon, Rochford are among the places loaded with myths, heroic deeds and otherworldly visitors. The tales included in this volume are among the most interesting in the wonderful series of the Folk Tales from the British Isles.
The writer has broken the stories into eight themes. Dragons/Battles/Heroes (or rather, Antiheroes)/ Witches/ Love Stories/ Ghosts and supernatural creatures/ Curiosities/ Spirituality. This was cleverly done and helps the reader to compare the tales centered on a specific theme and understand each era’s take on it. In these pages we meets Kings of Old, Christians and Pagans, pirates, smugglers, knights, witches and elves, saints and wise women. The War of the Flags incident was very interesting, along with the famous Dunmow Flitch Trials, a historic celebration of marriage where companionship, love and trust are awarded with a piece of bacon. And of course, everyone knows about the deep bond between Essex and its witches…
(image source: http://eerieplace.com/haunted-st-michaels-church-fobbing)
However, I didn’t enjoy this volume as much as the others. There was too much emphasis on the stereotype of the ‘’evil’’ Viking which is old-fashioned, uneducated and frankly? Boring. The writing doesn’t have the fairy tale, dreamy, tell-by-the-fire quality I’ve been used to and isn’t up to par with the majority of the Folk Tales volumes. The writer tries too hard to appear smart and funny and in the end, she comes across as condescending of the tales she has chosen to include. Still, the effort is saved by the interesting, haunting stories. It’s a pity that Williams seems to be a rather average writer, lacking the ‘’touch’’ that turns the reading of a tales into a magical experience.
And now, where shall we travel next?