So begins this new novella from Alison Littlewood, the second in the 2017 NewCon press horror range. And it makes a nice contrast with the first, Case Of The Bedevilled Poet by Simon Clark. Clark's novella played with the fictionality of Sherlock Holmes; Alison Littlewood's Cottingley offers a fictionlised version of Holmes's creator.
Doyle himself does not appear onstage in this story, but it is based around a well-known chapter in his life, that of the Cottingley fairies. Famously, Doyle was taken in by these fakes, but in Littlewood's novella fairies are real; but they aren't as innocent as those in the famous photos. Instead, this tale explores the darker side of fairie lore. Littlewood's fairies don't seem evil or good so much as alien and other: beings that might entrance or harm us for their own unfathomable motives.
It will be no surprise to long time readers of this blog how much I like Littlewood's fiction, and Cottingley is no exception. It expertly evokes both its setting and the characters' emotional lives; it's impeccably paced, perfectly structured, and a genuine page-turner. I devoured it in one sitting. Make sure you pick up a copy.
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