Do you believe in fairies? No? Well, most fairies don’t believe in you, either. Nor gnomes, pixies, or others in the magical realm. At least according to a new book entitled The Land of Stone Flowers. But don’t worry. A few believe. And they have been taking notes.
Though the cover image makes it appear otherwise, The Land of Stone Flowers: A Fairy Guide to the Mythical Human Being isn’t so much a book about fairies as one about us. The cover’s gorgeous fairy-based foil art gives us a glimpse into the world of the fairy, but it doesn’t quite reflect what’s inside. Inside, we learn about what the fairies think of us. The humans.
The publisher claims that the original of this book, which was the size of a marigold, was sent in with a note from a child asking them to reproduce it, but larger, so he or she could read it. They did their best, and the result is that we can all now read and see what the members of this magical world think of us humans based on their observations. You can get the unique perspective of the other worldly beings of the Glimmering Land of Maar, including gnomes, fairies, elves, and more. It’s a joint effort of many magical being storytellers, such as Tanterobobous the Meek, Khaft Gnome, Fairy Flamboya, and others. The book is broken down into categories:
- What Is a Human Being?
- The Magical World of Humans
- Morality and Customs
- The Human Language
- Connections Between the Human World and the Glimmering Land
Throughout, the book is filled with many different styles of illustration, to reflect the joint authorship. And the pages inside the book even look like they are worn, paged through many times. So much so that you’ll do a double take, touching the pages and looking closely, before you realize that it’s just printed that way. The publishers really captured the look and feel of the original, though.
The editor of the book, the one who gathered all of these stories together, is Gnome Khaft (or Khaft Gnome—it’s written differently in different spots). He had quite an experience accidentally spending time among humans (for three human years!). After his return to the Glimmering Land of Maar, he traveled around to gather other creatures’ stories about what they knew about humans.
See, many magical creatures don’t believe in the existence of humans. But some believe the stories they’ve heard about humans, and a few have had experiences with humans themselves. This book’s editor believes he has gathered together indisputable proof (unlike when people hear about the strawberry toad cult, for example). This many magical creatures can’t be wrong. Right?
The title of the book, The Land of Stone Flowers, reflects the magical creatures’ view of what the human world is like. “Stone flowers” are our cities (but not our settees or streets or seats—you’ll understand if you read the book). The book covers specific features of humans and our way of life. You’ll learn about the part of our brain called a cherubral vortex (where all the cherubs spin around the room, naturally), how we use photographs to attempt to capture the fleeting essence of a person, why we have to get around by means of iron insects, and how many of our products are confusing, such as our glowing boxes that we spend so much time gazing upon.
You’ll even learn about this magical world’s origin story, along with how this world actually fits into the greater scheme of things. You’ll learn about humans from a completely mixed up, misconstrued perspective made by creatures who have only gotten glimpses into our world without any context or the ability to ask questions. But, though it’s disguised as fanciful fiction, this priceless volume of knowledge reveals so many of humanity’s truths that pages of my Commonplace Book are now filled with quotes from it.
The Land of Stone Flowers is so lighthearted and delightful, you’ll savor its contents and its gorgeously illustrated pages. There is so much to study. Reading and re-reading will uncover new delights each time. I’ve found myself losing minutes while studying the varied and often extremely detailed illustrations, which range in style from traditional fairy art to Art Nouveau to line art. And, despite the obvious confusion on the part of many of the magical creatures, be sure to look for the truisms that are more true than much of what is written by humans themselves. These creatures seem to have the ability, once they look past the superficial, to get at the essence of humanity.
Note: There may be a reference or two to more adult-oriented concepts (i.e., sex!), but it’s described in such a way as to probably go over the heads of anyone of the “too young” variety, if there is such a thing.
And the book even comes with a ribbon bookmark, which is a very nice touch. It also makes it easier to savor the book, reading each entry slowly, and then reflecting on what it can tell us about how we see ourselves, or what we should be seeing in ourselves.
After reading The Land of Stone Flowers, you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the magical world, for your own world, and for your place in it. And you’ll learn to laugh a bit more at yourself and those around you. You may even start believing in magic. Magic that is invented in our minds and made real by our words and our pens. Magic that adds life to the human experience. Magic that touches even people like me who are strongly rooted in logic and objective truth.
In the end, all I can say is, “Wow.” This book is a masterpiece.
(Do note, however, that the actual author and illustrator for the book is Sveta Dorosheva, an extremely talented being of her own. She admits to (legally) borrowing some of the imagery from other books, but the rest she illustrated herself.)
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.