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November/December 2015
 
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The Capture of Nina Carroll, by Arthur Thrush (1924)


A SMALL number of very interesting novels about fairies—books written for adults—came out in England in the 1920s and 1930s. The best known of these include Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924) and Hope Mirrlees's Lud-in-the-Mist (1926). One of the least known, because it sold poorly and has never been reprinted, is The Capture of Nina Carroll, by Arthur Thrush (1894-1963), who worked for many years in British publishing.

The setting is the rural village of Greynover, where Nina Carroll is the beautiful daughter of a family that scoffs at traditional beliefs. The Faery Queen desires Nina in order to make her beauty immortal, while the demons want her because they find beauty to be tasty to their palates. Both the fairies and the demons separately enlist the unique creature Festiniog to assist them. Festiniog represents the intersection of the three species. He was born from a demon father and a faery mother, and has the soul of an unbaptized human. Meanwhile Nina's younger sister Beatrice is possessed and tortured by invisible forces. Beatrice claims they want her to become a witch. The townsfolk blame old Nannie Pilcher because she is old and has a black cat and must therefore be a witch. They also blame Festiniog and most of the Carroll family. The Shepard Tisburn orders them to perform a trial by touch to determine their guilt or innocence, leading to a startling conclusion for this intelligent and original tale.

—Douglas A. Anderson

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