When I say fairies (fae) what immediately comes to your mind? No, shove Tinkerbell aside. I’m not talking about cute, delicate-winged fae. I mean the fae of English, Scots, and Irish folklore. (there are different fairy legends across the globe, but I’m concentrating on this particular set for a reason). Often, the English, Scots, and Irish fae legends are written into two courts – the Seelie (happy, blessed) and the Unseelie (unhappy, unclean or unholy). There are a lot of stories based on this folklore.
- Changling Child or Children
- Careful What you wish for
- Fairy rings
Now, not all of the above can be associated with either the Seelie or Unseelie courts, but perhaps I should back up and describe the differences between the courts to begin with.
The Seelie court is known as the kinder, lighter of the two fae courts. They’re dangerous but overall benevolent. They’re generally helpful to Humans, especially respectful ones. Some tales assign times of the year to the Seelie, namely spring and summer. The Seelie might play a prank on a Human but not one that would do harm. (This is the crash course version of the Seelie, so don’t use this as the basis of any belief or as a good source of info.)
Now, take everything I said above, turn it upside down, and you basically have the Unseelie court. They’re the hateful, deadly, darker of the two fae courts. They’re fall and winter, malevolent, and find wrecking Human lives amusing. They’ll kill a Human for entertainment or, worse yet, keep a Human as a pet. (Again, crash course. Pick up any novel about the Seelie and Unseelie courts and you’ll see it presented in various ways. The same goes for video games, which I widely don’t play anymore.)
So why did I do those crash courses? It’s simple, really. I created a third fae court for my Appalachian Elementals Series, a Scottish-descending court so irritating that the Seelie and Unseelie worked together to eliminate them. I created the Hunter Fae for my Appalachian Elementals series. (Also, I didn’t place the Seelie and/or Unseelie in Appalachia because that would have been too easy plus it’s been done.)
Here are a few differences between the Seelie/Unseelie and the Hunters.
- Traditionally speaking, fae dislike iron (it repels them). The Hunters are metal workers, what was once called and still sometimes called, blacksmiths, but they’ve changed with the times to become welders of note. They love iron, which is the primary reason they’ve settled on Embreeville Mountain.
- The Hunters look down on the Seelie and Unseelie courts – or they historically do. Honestly, they haven’t been around either group since the 16th century. They consider themselves the purest of courts because they 1) aren’t “bleedin’ hearts” like the Seelie and 2) “don’t breed with everything” like the Unseelie courts (that’s where orcs and other dark creatures come from, according to some legends)
- The Hunters are just that – hunters. They make and use their weapons with extreme skill, and those weapons, when coated by the Hunter King’s blood, can kill another fae – including the Seelie and Unseelie. This ability also applies to other magical beings, including elemental spirits.
- The Hunters, before they leave Scotland, are a patriarchy, which flies in the face of most Seelie and Unseelie tales. Females lead, especially in the Seelie court, because males cannot survive the tests involved.
- Hunter wings are more bat-like than traditional fae, black, veined, and large. They’re a thing of power and intimidation, but the Hunters can tuck their wings to hide them, to keep them out of the way. Tucking is a magical bit of their biology that lets them look Human, allowing them to blend in.
Essentially, I’ve created the anti-fae. I’ve created American, backwoods, redneck, blue-collar fae who live among us (East Tennessee, Northwest North Carolina, Southwest Virginia, and a tiny bit of Southeast Kentucky). They’ve held onto a few of their old traditions – court, feasts, and their king, but the rest is Appalachian down to the biscuits and gravy and, of course, moonshine. But they have limits that came with being where they are, limits their last king had to agree to before they were allowed to settle on Embreeville Mountain.
- No more than thirty-six members
- No children
- New members are made from Humans and must agree to become fae (this is at the king’s discretion)
- Cannot travel more than what equates to 100 miles in any direction, meaning they’re contained
Yes, I’ve turned the idea of fae on its ear. I’m probably not the first author to do so. In fact, I know I’m not the first, but I’m having fun with my own unique version.
Oh, and the Hunter King is now a woman. King Dane Gow is 430 years old, a lesbian, and her attitude generally stinks. She describes the Hunters as follows: “We’re the Gow clan, a meaner-than-hell family of crooks and social problems, and no one, not even the sheriff’s office, wants to mess with us.” They’re business people too. Oh, yes, they’ve fully assimilated into modern Appalachia. Dane owns a welding, fencing, and repair business, and her subjects are her employees.
My fae haven’t faded into mythology and folklore, and they’re putting those metalworking skills to good use.
The Hunters are full of the anachronisms that come with immortality (yes, they can still kill each other, and they do). But all the other little details that come with being part of the modern world – IDs, business and driver’s licenses, voter registration… well, I address those issues in Keeping House, which is still a work-in-progress status.
Until then, you can read Cleaning House – A Contemporary Appalachian Fantasy and the first novel in the Appalachian Elementals Series.
You can read more about the fae, elementals, and even a few humans in the Appalachian Elementals series HERE.
Top image – fae silhouettes come from PNGtree and Pixabay (arrangement by Jeanne G’Fellers)
Metalworking collage – design by Jeanne G’Fellers (images from Canva and Unsplash)
Black-Winged Fae – Pixabay
Dane Gow Collage – design Jeanne G’Fellers (though the PNG of Dane and the smoke surrounding her comes from PNGtree and the other images derive from free-for-personal-and-commercial-use sources)
Collection of Hunter Fae images (Hunter mugs)- all from Unsplash, arrangement Jeanne G’Fellers
Keeping House teaser image – design Jeanne G’Fellers
Cover: Cleaning House – cover design Jeanne G’Fellers