Saturday, January 17, 2015

Frightening Faeries - Powder Perfect Review

Just before Christmas, Powder Perfect released a collection of indie polish just about tailor made to appeal to me - glittery, heavy on the purple, and all inspired by folktales!

Mysterium Magnum  is a gorgeous collection, even if you don't care about the folktales that inspired it. There's something here for just about everyone, from muted flakies to balls out glitterbombs.

From left to right we have - Lycanthrope, Melusina, Griffon, Leviathan, Faerie, and Lorelei.

I couldn't possibly pass up such a perfect opportunity to ramble about folklore as well as show you pretty things, so I'll be doing a separate post for just about all these polishes. Today I'm going to get the ball rolling with the spectacular Faerie.

Faerie is a real glitterfest, right on the edge of pink and purple. It leans a bit more purple under artificial light, but under natural light it shines almost alarmingly pink.

There's a veritable cornucopia of glitter in this one - pinks and purples and silvers, with a smattering of holo glitter just to take it right over the top. You won't need anything under this to get full coverage in two coats, but you will want to use a nice gooey topcoat to smooth it out.

When you think of faeries, you probably get an image in your head of kind, sweet, flitting creatures in metres of organza.

But personally, I've never really liked those kinds of faeries. They're too...well, nice. If you know where to look, there are just as many stories in folklore where faeries are cruel, spiteful, and sometimes downright dangerous. What I love about this polish is that it's glittery and pink, but almost aggressively so. It's SO FUCKING shiny, and SO PINK, that it's got a bit of ferocity to it, which is the kind of faerie I like best.

These are the kind of faeries that drive the story of Tamlane, an English fairytale I recently read in Fearless Girls, a collection edited by Kathleen Ragan.

If you're looking for a collection of women-centred folktales, I highly recommend this. Just skip the woo-woo heavy commentary at the end of each story, it's a bit painful.
The story starts out pretty simple – Tamlane is a fearless knight, promised to a beautiful maid named Janet. According to the story, they were deeply in love, which seems kind of unlikely given that romantic love in a marital setting is actually quite a modern concept, but hey, that's how the story goes. But one day, Tamlane rides out to hunt and doesn't come back. BUMMER. After some time, Janet is out in a field doing some sort of maidenly duties probably tending the field) and Tamlane rocks up, all decked out in fancy armour and riding a fantastic white horse. Janet asks where the fuck he's been, which seems pretty reasonable. Tamlane says he was kidnapped by the Queen of the Fae, to be her most beloved escort – although he's also pretty sure she's planning on sacrificing him to the Devil, because he's so handsome. Suuuuuuure, you might say. Queen of the Fae, riiiiight. But Janet believes him, and asks what she can do to help him come home, because she's a way more trusting and kind person than I am.

Tamlane tells her that it so happens the Fae Court will be travelling through the forest that night, and if she sneaks up on them she might be able to literally snatch him away from the faeries. He tells her once she snatches him, she'll have to hold him tight no matter what spells the faeries try, then throw him in a lake to cast off the spells. Why he can't just run away and jump in a lake on his own is never addressed – instead Janet agrees to meet him that night, and help him escape.

Later that night, Janet hides in the woods and watches the whole eldritch court march past her. Turns out Tamlane was right and the Queen was absolutely going to sacrifice him, so she'd gotten everyone out to witness her deliciously handsome tithe. When Janet sees her beloved Tamlane go past, she leaps out of the woods and knocks him to the ground. As Tamlane had predicted, the faeries get pretty fucking pissed that she's just snatched their prize sacrifice, and start throwing spells to turn him into something Janet couldn't hold on to. First they turned him into a chunk of ice, then a searing pillar of flame, then a snake, then a dove and a swan. I'm not really clear how the dove and the swan were supposed to be hard to hold on to, but I guess the faeries were just trying anything they thought of. Finally they turned Tamlane into a white hot sword, at which point Janet decided it was time to throw this sucker in the lake already. He emerged, manly as ever, and the faeries were thwarted. When the faerie Queen rode away though, she tossed off this charming verse by way of goodbye;

“Had I but known Tamlane, Tamlane,
a lady would borrow thee,
I'd ha ta'en out they two grey eyes,
and put in two eyes of tree”

How delightfully gory is that image? “I wish I'd cut your eyes out and shoved bits of wood in there instead.” AWESOME. The Queen of the Fey is so badass. 

Okay, so this is technically supposed to be Wrath, but it also fits pretty perfectly how I imagine the Queen of the Fae looking after Janet snatched Tamerlane back. This is by the enormously talented Dahlig over at Deviantart.
It wasn't just the Queen of the Fae that was badass though - on the Isle of Man there are stories of the Leanhaum-Shee, a breed of literally maneating vampire faeries*. They would apparently attempt to seduce young men wandering in the woods alone, and if they failed they'd straight up tear you to pieces. If they succeeded, they'd suck your blood while boning your brains out, and store your stolen blood in a big cauldron.

The Leanhaum-Shee would use the stolen blood to keep themselves young and beautiful, but also feed a little bit of it back to their victims every now and then to inspire the young men to write them love poetry. Of course, eventually the young man in question would run out of both blood and satisfactory poetry, at which point he'd wither and die and the Leanhaum-Shee would go find another toy.

While this story (and many, MANY others) are a pretty obvious misogynistic metaphor for how women allegedly suck the life out of you, from a modern viewpoint the life of a Leanhaum-Shee doesn't sound so bad. Seducing young men and discarding them when they no longer amuse you? Isn't that the overarching storyline of Sex in the City?

Those are my two favourite gory, scary, bad faerie stories - do you know any? Do you prefer the kind, fluttery kind of faerie?

*I got my information on the Leanhaum-Shee from Encyclopedia of Fairies, by Theresa Bane. You can see the Ebook here on Google Books.


  1. This was a hilarious post! I loved your retelling of Tamlane's story - I want to go and read it myself, but I don't think it would be able to top your version! :) Also, I am so looking forward to all the posts about the rest of this collection - let the folklore begin! xx

  2. Love it! I love story time with pretty nail polish!

    PS. Do you have details on where to sign up for theLeanhaum-Shee?

  3. I have so missed your pretty polish & folk tale posts! I didn't even know there were non-angeldust winged and robed in silk faeries - the Leanhaum-Shee sounds totally badass.


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