Today I reread Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard!
(I got through most of it while waiting for the bus to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan, which should tell you what you need to know about NYC public transit right now.)
BUT IT WAS OKAY BECAUSE I REALLY LOVE THE PERILOUS GARD.
This was an incredibly formative book for me. It's a Tudor-era take on Tam Lin, starring sensible Kate Sutton, whose sister has accidentally pissed off Queen Mary and gotten Kate banished to a mysterious manor inhabited by a nice middle-aged knight and his younger brother, Emo Lord Drama King Christopher Heron.
CHRISTOPHER HERON: I don't really want to talk to you, but since you are here, and I enoy self-flagellation, let me tell you all about my terrible self and that time I destroyed everything I loved so you understand what an awful person I am!
KATE SUTTON: Well, that was an interesting story, but I have to say the geography of it doesn't make any sense.
CHRISTOPHER HERON: . . . you just heard me bare my WHOLE ANGSTY SOUL to you, and you are asking me about geography?
KATE SUTTON: It's relevant!
CHRISTOPHER HERON: Clearly there is no talking to you! I am off to brood in my leper's cave on a cold bed of stone. FOREVER.
KATE SUTTON: Oh yes, that's extremely
Basically: Kate Sutton has no TIME for your manpain. KATE SUTTON IS THE GREATEST.
And this book is the greatest; it has all the sense of the eerie, the strange and the numinous that you could want from a story about the teind and the Fair Folk and the mysterious beauty underground, but at its heart it's very much about the things that matter because they're real, and wonderful because they're real. Kate is a heroine who saves the day -- and it's not a spoiler to tell you that she's a heroine who saves the day; after all, this is
a Tam Lin story -- because she values reality more than fantasy, and control over her own mind more than her dreams. She's a heroine because, when you're building a fantasy manor, she's the one who will point out that building an extra door wherever you feel like it is going to get awfully pricey.
(To be fair, I also love Christopher, with his drama king flair and his secret passion for DRAINS AND DITCHING.)
I have mentioned I think that this book was incredibly formative for me. The legend of Tam Lin, in general, was incredibly formative for me; I spent a lot of my childhood collecting retellings, and there was a time when I could recite the whole ballad from memory, or at least a version of the whole ballad, though I think that time has possibly passed. And it's not like you needed to search for an origin of my thing for ladies saying "hey, don't worry, distressed dude in peril, I got this one," because that is just objectively awesome, but if you were to go looking, you'd probably find it here.
Which means it is time for a poll that I can't actually vote in! GREATEST TAM LIN. TAM LINS BATTLE TO THE DEATH. GO.
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My favorite Tam Lin is . . .