The Fae Are Not a Phase: The Fae Are Here to Stay

The Fae Are Not a Phase, Part V


Faerie is a fascinating trend taking BookTok and other social media platforms by storm in recent years. For my thesis paper at The New School, I decided to write a critical analysis of Faerie as a tool for writers to provide escapism and explore humanity–and I’m excited to share it with you, part by part, here on my blog!

Part V: The Fae Are Here to Stay

The Essence of Escapism

After exploring the engaging action and fast-paced plots of books like An Enchantment of Ravens, The Cruel Prince, and A Court of Thorns and Roses, it’s easy to see that the world of Faerie provides entertainment value and escapism. These elements may make Faerie books more likely to easily capture the attention of reluctant young readers, as opposed to nonfiction books or those from the perspective of older characters, whose struggles may be entirely unrelatable at the young reader’s current stage in life. Utilizing escapism to get young readers excited about books is invaluable, but the merit of escapism itself in a young reader’s greater life makes a true, lasting impact.

The very essence of escapism benefits readers of all ages, but is especially integral to young readers’ development of elements such as empathy, self-discovery, social skills, and a sense of belonging (Sarah DiGiulio). During the process of reading a book, readers may feel like they are actually experiencing the events in the text alongside–or in place of–its characters. 

Picking up a book can transport readers away from the stress, boredom, or trauma of their real lives, giving them a break as well as a chance to process whatever it is they might be going through in life–and often, they can see their struggles and triumphs reflected back to them on the page in a way that makes it easier to take in. 

“Stories about other people teach us to be the types of people we want to be,” (Sarah DiGiulio). By diving into the thoughts, feelings, and values of a character who may be different from them, young adults can develop an understanding about the way others walk through the world. 

In fact, studies show that reading fiction, rather than documentary style nonfiction stories, can actually “cause significant changes in the experience of one’s own personality traits”(Djikic et al.). Before and after reading their assigned texts, both the experimental and control groups completed a Big Five personality inventory test and an emotion checklist that had been placed within a larger set of questionnaires. The experimental group was assigned to read a short story–”The Lady With the Toy Dog” by Anton Chekhov. The control group read a text that contained the same content, but was presented to them in a documentary form that was controlled for elements such as length, readability, and interest level so as to be comparable to the fictional short story. The researchers found that “the experimental group experienced significantly greater change in self-reported experience of personality traits than the control group” following the study,” (Djikic et al.). In other words, the study participants were so affected by fiction that they, even for a short period of time, may have unwittingly changed their behavior and thought processes based on the experience they had with the story. 

Although “The Lady With the Toy Dog” is not a Faerietale–nor was it written with a young adult audience in mind–the study suggests that it is probable that reading fiction can make a real, tangible impact on our lives, even after we put the book down. 

Come Away, O, Human Child

From the time I was born, my dad told me stories about his experiences with Faeries while growing up in Ireland. Fictional or not, the tales of his Faerie friends’ mischief provided me with the fodder to dream about joining in on missions to steal apples and trick farmers. Although his stories were filled with joy, my father’s Faeries also served as an age-appropriate window for me to understand one facet of his experience growing up during The Troubles from a young child’s point of view. Since the time of my dad’s bedtime Faerietales, I have found myself entranced by the way Faerie can both represent an escape and act as a foil to illuminate the most intricate, often dark parts of the human mind, entwining storytellers and audience alike in a glamour of glittering courts and magic.

For many other young readers, Faerie provides a similar opportunity to come to a greater understanding of themselves and others, as well as the world we live in–lessons which are of unparalleled value as our world grows more interconnected and complicated each and every year. Besides the lessons Faerie books can teach young adults, they have also jumpstarted a community that reaches far and wide across social media, prompting joy and community via BookTok and other platforms that no other fantasy subgenre can compare to. 

Thanks to the endless opportunities to create real-world communities, explore the depths of humanity, escape to new worlds, and utilize craft elements such as worldbuilding and character development in new and exciting ways in books like An Enchantment of Ravens, The Cruel Prince, and A Court of Thorns and Roses, there’s no question about it: the Fae are here to stay.



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