Academia Meets the Occult

Good afternoon fairy-tale enthusiasts!

A little while back I reviewed a collection of folk tales from Nordland Publishing. Though not directly related to fairy tales, my interest was piqued again when Nordland Publishing mentioned a new book to me in which academia intersects with the occult. Having been involved in the academic world since 2003, I couldn’t resist!

So I was sent a copy of The Guardian: Blood in the Sand by MJ Kobernus, the first instalment of The Guardian series.




It’s the story of an ordinary academic named Philip Entwhistle. You can’t help but love this unlikely hero – a boyish and bookish historian, who’s office is a mess, and who frequently falls asleep at his laptop.

But one minute he’s plodding along with the usual business of research, and the next his investigations are leading him into a world of witches, spells, djinn, romance, and magical visions of the past. It’s about time academia got a bit sexy and mysterious, am I right?

There were a few moments when I wished that there was a bit of magic to help me along in academia. In one scene, Philip awakes from a dream to find that he’s somehow written 7,000 words of his research manuscript without even realising it. Why couldn’t that have happened during my PhD?? Anyone else have major research envy here?

There were a few nice touches in this book. I let out a little squeal of delight when I realised that together the chapter titles form a poem! I also enjoyed the quotes that opened each chapter – from Shakespeare, to Kierkegaard, to the Arabian Nights.

Of course, the book ends with a little bit of a cliffhanger to prepare for the next instalment, The Guardian: Blood in the Snow. I must admit, I’ve gotten a little attached to dear Mr Entwhistle, so I look forward to seeing how things turn out for him.

If you’d like to read The Guardian: Blood in the Sand, you can get a copy here.


Enchanted regards,
Dr Belinda Calderone
Monash Fairy Tale Salon





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Book Review – Seven Tales by G.C. McRae

Seven Tales - McRae


A few weeks ago I received my review copy of Seven Tales – a collection of seven original tales by G.C. McRae, written in the classic style of authors like Anderson and the Grimms. And I was excited to see that it was personally signed…


Seven Tales - Signed


… what a nice touch! I’ve read many twentieth- and twenty-first-century revisions of classic fairy and folk tales – often dark or ironic inversions. But it was nice to read original tales written in the style of those classic tales. It reminded me of when I was growing up and my Mum would read me a fairy tale I hadn’t heard before.

In McRae’s collection you will find many familiar tropes, including queens afraid of ageing, children given away at birth,  predatory wolves, and women kissing frogs. Yet, at the same time, the tales bring freshness and energy. These original tales are charming and laced with humour. I giggled quite a few times at the sometimes unexpected witty insertions!

McRae’s tales are mostly light-hearted, though every now and then there is an unexpected element of tragedy, like a devastated king who believes that his daughter has been transfigured into a wooden doll and spends years trying to turn her back into flesh and blood. (I may have gotten slightly teary!)

Standout tales for me were ‘The Sneaking Girl and the Other Queen,’ in which a workaholic queen learns how to have fun, and ‘The Dollmaker’s Daughter,’ in which an overbearing father must eventually come to realise that he must allow his daughter some freedom.

Seven Tales is one of those collections perfect to curl up with on a Sunday afternoon. Get a copy here.


Enchanted regards,
Dr Belinda Calderone


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Modern Fairy Tales

Snow Modern

Photo via


Good morning fairy talers!

Just a quick post to let you know that Writers Victoria announced December’s Fairy Tale edition of The Victorian Writer on their website. Their title is: “Modern Fairy Tales”.

Fairy tales are really booming in popular culture at the moment, and there have been countless modern adaptations in literature, graphic novels, film and television in the last few years, so it’s a great time for this edition. Go ahead and send a proposal in!

Enchanted regards,
Belinda Calderone



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Follow the North Road




Happy Monday, fairy-tale enthusiasts!

My last post was a review of The Northlore Series: Volume One from Nordland Publishing.

I’m excited to announce that they are now looking for submissions of short stories and poetry for the second volume.

Nordland Publishing have written:

If you have an affinity for the cold, or endless winter nights, or if the lure to go a viking is strong, then we welcome your submission.

If this sounds like you, then go ahead and submit something!

For all the info, visit the Nordland Publishing website.

Enchanted regards,
Belinda Calderone

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Trolls and Witches and Selkies – Oh My!

A fresh new collection of folklore was released from Nordland Publishing last month: The Northlore Series: Volume One. Though it’s slightly outside the fairy-tale focus of the MFTS, I was delighted when asked to review it on the blog.

And let me tell you, from the moment I saw the cover I was hooked, and I began my journey into the realm of trolls, draugrs, huldr, selkies, elves, and witches…





Gorgeous isn’t it? The book is a contemporary collection of 33 Scandinavian folk tales, inspired by ancient tales from this region. I’ve read many anthologies of old tales collected from different countries, so it was refreshing to read some modern incarnations!

Indeed, as Nordland Publishing have written about their book:

“The Scandinavian peoples came originally from a world of mists and forests, a landscape that spawned a rich history of myth and legend, which entered the collective psyche and formed the bedrock of their soul. Although severely diminished by the arrival of Christianity in the last millennium, these beliefs never fully died out. Many have been preserved as fragments in songs and sagas, while others survive as stories, still told by parents to their children … At the root of the stories, there are lessons to be a learned; little nuggets of wisdom that made sense in their time, and perhaps still makes sense today.”

The collection most definitely reflects the intersection between old and new tales, as it contains tales that harken back to olden times, such as “Hold the Door,” as well as tales told in a contemporary setting, such as “Between Two Worlds.”

I’m also a poetry lover at heart, so I was delighted to see both prose and verse. I particularly enjoyed the mournful beauty of “Fossegrim” and the tension between lust and fear in  “Mara, My Love.”

And there are some lovely illustrations peppered throughout to stir the imagination.

All in all, this is a special collection, and I love that it’s dedicated “To all those who dream.”

Click here to get a copy!


Enchanted regards,
Belinda Calderone



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CFP Open for Our Annual Event!

Well, it’s that time of year again when we start to gear up for our annual event! So excited. Though it’s slightly outside the traditional definition of a fairy tale, we had to do something to celebrate the birthday of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


Illustration by John Tenniel

Illustration by John Tenniel


So without further ado, here is the official Call for Papers:

The Monash Fairy Tale Salon will be hosting a curious afternoon of madness and muchness as we go down the rabbit hole in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Long before Tim Burton and Walt Disney stepped through the looking-glass, a mathematician, a Reverend and three girls went for a boating trip on the Isis. During the journey the mathematician regaled the party with a nonsense story that has become known as one of the favourite stories for children and adults alike. For one afternoon only, we will be hosting an exploration of all the impossible things we can do before breakfast. Come along and learn about the author and illustrators who shaped literary history and gave us such wonderfully uncommon nonsense. For the bold at heart (or the Queen of Hearts), come dressed as your favourite Wonderland character! This event is open to anyone who has a love for nonsense and will take place at the Theatrette, Glen Eira Town Hall, on Saturday June 13, starting at 1pm, as part of the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival.

We are looking for interested participants who would like to present papers or original work in the form of readings or performances.

Areas of interest:

– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland scholarship (incl. literary studies, film & TV, drama studies, gender studies)
– Live performance of Carroll inspired work
– Carroll inspired readings (incl. readings of Carroll’s work or work inspired by Alice)

Please send a 100-200 word summary or abstract to by April 27. For more information, please contact us at


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A Sweeping Tale



Well, it seems that Australian fairy tale authors are on fire at the moment!

Melbourne-based illustrator Kate Churchward has just written, illustrated and published an ebook based around the renowned tale “Cinderella.”

I’ve posted about it here on The Australian Fairy Tale Society website.


Happy reading!

Belinda Calderone
The Monash Fairy Tale Salon



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