The ghost of Christmas that never was

What we have here is a fantasy story steeped in Irish folklore. Full disclosure: fantasy novels are not my favorite cup of tea, but I enjoyed Leilanie Stewart’s The Fairy Lights all the same.

The book begins with its main character, Aisling, decorating her home for Christmas. She is a college student, a bit self-conscious, and she’s doing what most college kids do: try to make friends and do well in her studies. But life derails these plans; she begins to have odd experiences, culminating in a scare so big she falls down the stairs.

From this point the story includes a ghost, whom Aisling attempts to communicate with, but who keeps telling her not to do so. The acquaintances she brings in to help her become her friends during these attempts, despite road bumps and misunderstandings along the way. The story transforms from a real-world, mundane reality, into a complex weave of planes of existence from Irish folklore. Stewart does a fine job of leaving the reader wondering just how much these events are real and how much they are figments of the Aisling’s imagination and past trauma. If you want to know which side Stewart comes down on, then you’ll have to read the book.

Other than our two main characters, Aisling and her new ghost friend Jimbo, the rest of the characters in The Fairy Lights are not fleshed out in much detail (well, there’s Clinoa, but I’m not going to get into her because that would be a spoiler), but this doesn’t really harm the story. This is a supernatural suspense novel, after all, not a dramatic character study.

I have become something of a Stewart aficionado, so I feel safe to say her writing is clear and comfortable: not too lean and not too flamboyant. The story here is what is important, not the sentence structure. And while I do enjoy really well-written sentence roller-coasters, I’ve come to prefer books dealing with fantasy that take a more measured approach to language. Aping Middle English tends to come off as pretentious and distracting. So kudos to Stewart for keeping an even keel over these fantastical waters.

Ah yes, that old conclusion. You’ve already read what I think, but now I’m supposed to say it again, more succinctly. Or something.

The Fairy Lights is a good read with a solid story and some fine Irish mythology. Even though I am not the biggest fan of the genre, I found myself engaged and wanting to dive back in whenever I had to pause my reading. In the end, what more can you ask from a book, or its author?

Read it. You’ll like it.

You can visit Leilanie Stewart’s Amazon page to see the other books she’s written.

Read my other Stewart reviews:

The Blue Man ❯

The Buddha’s Bones ❯

Matthew’s Twin ❯