In Faery Tale, One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World, Signe Pike offers the reader a rare vicarious journey, one that involves a leap across the ocean and into the fanciful. Pike actually tried to find fairies, and she wrote a really engaging book in the process. Pike was working in the New York City publishing scene, sorting through pain and memories after her father’s death, and relying on the support system of her social circle (including her boyfriend and an Reiki Master neighbor who sees fairies in Pike’s apartment) when she decided to go in search of fairy life.
Pike doesn’t come across as a loopy-doopy traitor to the cause of rationality, though she exhibits more fanciful leanings than many readers will themselves possess. And, Faery Tale does not smack of disingenuousness the way some books do nowadays, making the reader – at least, me – wonder if the whole thing was conveniently fabricated for a book deal. It comes across as a pretty sincere labor of love, not commercialism. There is whimsy – she travels to Mexico and the United Kingdom to meet with believers and, possibly, encounter some magic herself. There is soul-searching, too – flashbacks to Pike’s childhood highlight her father’s loving and painful relationship with Pike and her sister.
The flashbacks are short; they don’t take readers away for too long from the fun a fairy-hunting. Pike’s father is first shown as warm and strong and, well, enchanting. Only in subsequent flashbacks do we see Mr. Pike’s wrestling match with his life’s disappointments and how it affected his family. This is a clever way to get us to feel the pain of a young Signe and her older self’s empathy for her father.
Meanwhile, the memoir perfectly flirts with the reader’s own sense of wanderlust and wonderment. For anglophiles, it’s a particularly good combination. My favorite episodes as I read were probably the episodes in England and Scotland. If you weren’t interested in ancient British history before reading Faery Tale, there’s a good chance you’ll be prowling your library’s history section afterward. As for the writing style, it’s pretty crisp and quite sensitive, offering a reading experience unencumbered by the attitude some writers have that can spoil a good idea and make you wish someone else had come up with it, instead.
At the end of her book, Pike asks, “So what are faeries, exactly?” A snippet from her answer reads, “It could be what we call faeries are unseen beings that are connected to the energies of the earth.” It seems Signe Pike really does believe in fairies. And, despite the persuasive stuff in her memoir and the way she so lucidly tells her story, I have to own up to finding it all – fairies and Pike’s open belief in them – difficult to fathom. But, I definitely enjoyed the journey that brought me into this new world. And, there probably are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, so it really isn’t unreasonable to have an intelligent exploration of some of the possibilities. At least, that’s my opinion. And this particular exploration was loads of fun.