Somewhat flippantly I included in my Twitter profile the expression “Rustic Fantasy” and I’ve been surprised by the number of people asking me to explain exactly what it means. Firstly of course it was an attempt to differentiate my work from those many novels described as “Urban Fantasy.” Not that there’s anything wrong with Urban Fantasy, but anyway by Rustic Fantasy I was referring to what is primarily a British tradition of books set in a rural location with an “Otherworldly” element. I don’t mean ghost stories, or rural crime stories such as “the Famous Five”, or jolly japes like “Danny the Champion of the World.” However I do include time slip stories, and the long tradition of tales and novels in which something from an old legend is awakened. Basically, instead of being set in some kind of fantasy Middle Earth world or parallel universe, these stories are located in the British countryside, but the normal order of things is disrupted by a fantasy/magical element. I’ll finish with some examples:
The Legend of King Arthur (Traditional)
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) – Alan Garner
Stig of the Dump (1963) – Clive King
Earthfasts (1966) – William Mayne
Catweazle (1970) – Richard Carpenter
The Dark is Rising (1973) – Susan Cooper
The Lyonesse Stone (1991) – Craig Weatherhill
Shadowmancer (2003) – G P Taylor
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising (2007)
Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986)
I don’t claim any originality for this, indeed it seems the NYT bestselling author Ilona Andrews got there a couple of years before me.
And in fact Robert Trow-Smith was using the expression back in 1954!