Thursday, May 26, 2022

Insights for Andersen's The Red Shoes: The people who 'danced themselves to death' by Rosalind Jana


BBC News published an interesting article about "dance plagues" or choreomania. These phenomena are part of what inspired Hans Christian Andersen's "The Red Shoes."

Read the full article at The people who 'danced themselves to death' by Rosalind Jana (12th May 2022).

Here's an excerpt to perhaps catch your interest (the inserted links below are to the mentioned items on Amazon):

Uncontrollable dance has a bewitching effect on those who contemplate it. One only has to think of the popular Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Red Shoes, with its cursed scarlet leather slippers that condemn their owner into a dance so tortuous that she eventually finds an executioner to hack off her own feet. It is a horrible tale, and people love it. Although its moral implications are relatively straightforward (a good old dose of punishment for vanity: the shoes' wearer put through this ordeal because she dared to covet such beautiful footwear in the first place), its darker suggestions of possession and incessant movement have inspired numerous works including a Powell and Pressburger film, a Kate Bush album, and several ballets.

This summer, the dance plague itself returns in earnest. Florence + The Machine's fifth album Dance Fever, released today, takes its cues from the unstoppable impulses of choreomania. The accompanying release notes outline frontwoman Florence Welch's interest in this volatile meeting point between energetic motion and moral panic, as well as touching on the subject's obvious resonance on an album recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic, when "the whirl of movement and togetherness" was both missed and anticipated. A dance plague is an apt theme for someone who wants to explore uncertainty and change. The opening lines of the song Choreomania – written before the pandemic – are uncannily prescient: "And I'm freaking out in the middle of the street / With the complete conviction of someone who has never actually had anything really bad happen to them." It's also apt for a singer so consistently preoccupied by the body as a tool of expression. Music videos for the album's singles King and Heaven is Here feature the same group of dancers who writhe around Welch, their motions uninhibited as they stamp their feet and dash their skirts.

A book to learn even more is mentioned in the article:

A Time to Dance, a Time to Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518 by John Waller

After one woman had danced to exhaustion in Strasbourg in July 1518, the dancing sickness quickly escalated into an epidemic that lasted over a month, with many people dying after dancing with crazed abandon for days. This study tells the story of the dancing plague, evokes the sights and sounds of the afflicted city and seeks to explain why people lapsed into that state of frantic delirium.

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Insights into The Six Swans (ATU -450): "Why you should embrace stinging nettles" by Richard Fisher


BBC News published an interesting article about stinging nettles with an emphasis on using them for clothing. Remind anyone of fairy tales like the The Six Swans and Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen, as well as the other tales of type ATU 450

Here's a short excerpt to the article which you can read in full at:  "Why you should embrace stinging nettles" by Richard Fisher (17th May 2022)
Given the nettle's ubiquity and utility, people have collected and cultivated the plant for centuries. Archaeological digs in the UK show that as far back as the Bronze Age, people used a subspecies of the plant to make their clothing, realising its easily accessible stems could make for soft, strong textiles.
Over the centuries, the nettle has been entwined with folklore and stories. In Hans Christian Anderson's tale The Wild Swans, a princess must silently – and painfully – knit 11 nettle shirts to save 11 of her brothers, who have been turned into swans by their evil stepmother. 
Nettles are also associated with Norse legend – specifically stories of Thor, and his companion Loki, the latter of whom supposedly invented a fishing net made from nettle yarn to catch salmon. The plant, however, has yet to appear in a storyline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

Bargain Ebooks: Steampunk Proper Romance Series by Nancy Campbell Allen for $1.99 and $2.99

This fairy tale historical romance steampunk series by Nancy Campbell Allen is on sale. The reviews for this series have been strong since it's release a few years ago. The "proper" label also means there is no explicit content but it isn't considered inspirational either. I think these are usually $3.99 or $4.99 each. All but the last one are currently $1.99 with the last one listed at $2.99.

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast (Steampunk Proper Romance) by Nancy Campbell Allen

When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border.

Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable and does not take kindly to visitors—even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Could Miles himself be to blame for the deaths?

Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man—beast and all?

Kiss of the Spindle (Proper Romance Steampunk) by Nancy Campbell Allen

A steampunk Sleeping Beauty story from the author of Beauty and the Clockwork Beast.

Doctor Isla Cooper is cursed. Literally. Each night, at the stroke of midnight she falls into a death-like sleep from which she cannot be awakened for six hours. To make it worse, the curse has an expiration date--after a year, it becomes permanent. And the year is almost up.

In a desperate attempt to find Malette--the witch who cursed her--Isla blackmails her way onto Daniel Pickett's private airship bound for the Caribbean, only to discover she's traveling with three illegal shapeshifters and the despicable Nigel Crowe, a government official determined to hunt down and exterminate every shapeshifter in England. Isla and Daniel must work together to keep the identities of the shapeshifters hidden while coming to terms with their own hidden secrets, and their blossoming attraction to each other.

Filled with suspense, intrigue, and plenty of romance, Kiss of the Spindle is steampunk Sleeping Beauty story. It is a race against the clock as Isla and Daniel try to hunt down the elusive Malette before Isla's death-like sleep becomes permanent.

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower (Proper Romance) by Nancy Campbell Allen

Hazel Hughes has spent her life believing she is a Medium—someone who can talk to ghosts. But as of yet, that skill has remained frustratingly elusive. She is also suffering from a reoccurring childhood dream of someone who looks almost exactly like Hazel, but this dream version of herself is slowly going mad.

Sam MacInnes is a talented surgeon who runs in the highest social circles thanks to his family’s position and history. When Sam hires Hazel to assist him with his medical practice, he is immediately drawn to her intelligence, wit, and beauty.

Their potential relationship is derailed one evening when a mysterious count arrives in London and reveals to Hazel the truth about her past: she was abducted at birth and her twin sister has fallen dangerously ill.

Hazel agrees to travel to Romania with Count Petrescu in order to save her sister, and Sam insists on accompanying her. The count has secrets, though, and the journey grows more sinister with every mile that draws Hazel closer to her homeland. Even as her feelings for Sam become deeper and more complicated, she fears she might not survive the quest to save her sister with her heart intact, not to mention her life. She must learn to draw on gifts she doesn’t know she has if they are going to ever return home again.

Hazel and Sam must fight their way past dark magic, clockwork beasts, and their own insecurities as they try to reach her sister in the impenetrable Coppergate Tower before time runs out.

Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts (Proper Romance) by Nancy Campbell Allen is $2.99.

A steampunk retelling of Cinderella.

Emmeline O’Shea has been an outspoken advocate for the shapeshifter community, which has come under unjust attack from a political body known as the PSRC (Predatory Shifter Regulations Committee), and her robust efforts have landed her a prestigious position as the spokesperson for the International Shifter Rights Organization. She has been selected to give the final address in Scotland before they vote on legislation that will grant protective rights to the shifter community. Because she is fundamentally changing the laws, she is also receiving death threats.

Oliver Reed is a by-the-book detective-inspector who has dealt with Emme’s borderline-illegal activism in the past, and there is little love lost between the two. When his superior tasks Oliver with guarding Emme around the clock to keep her safe until the summit is over, he is frustrated. He has several open cases requiring his attention, and his spare time is occupied with chasing down leads about the whereabouts of his brother, Vincent, a rogue vampire bent on causing trouble in Scotland.

When their airship is hijacked, Emme and Oliver are forced to parachute away before they exit British soil. They take refuge in Emme’s family’s hunting lodge where Oliver is introduced to her abusive stepsisters.

Together the pair must make their way to Edinburgh so as not to miss the summit meeting where Emme will be key in helping to pass legislation that will disband the corrupt PSRC. But between her vindictive sisters and Oliver’s rogue vampire brother, they face danger at every turn, not to mention dealing with their growing attraction for each other.

When Emme is kidnapped – leaving behind only one shoe as evidence – Oliver must find her before it’s too late – and the summit ends at midnight.


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Four Bargain Ebooks: Pax Arcana Series by Elliott James


The first four books in the Pax Arcana series by Elliott James is are on sale for $1.99 each right now to support the fifth book's release, Legend Has It. This is a fun series that plays with the Prince Charming archetype. It's compared to Supernatural and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden. For me the biggest selling point is admittedly Patricia Briggs blurbing it since she is one of my current favorite paranormal authors.

I have featured the first book a few times on sale but not the other three. I didn't even own them yet in ebook format which shows they are not frequently if ever on sale.

Charming (Pax Arcana Book 1) by Elliott James

Sharp, sarcastic, and efficiently lethal, John Charming is set to join the ranks of your favorite fast-talking anti-heroes like Dean Winchester and Harry Dresden in the first book of this page-turning urban fantasy series.

John Charming isn't your average Prince. . .

He comes from a line of Charmings -- an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chain mail and crossbows to Kevlar and shotguns, John Charming was one of the best -- until a curse made him one of the abominations the Knights were sworn to hunt.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, John tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. That is, until a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar. . .

Charming is the first novel in a new urban fantasy series which gives a new twist to the Prince Charming tale.

Daring (Pax Arcana Book 2) by Elliott James

Sharp, sarcastic, and efficiently lethal, John Charming would feel right at home having drinks with Dean Winchester and Harry Dresden. DARING, the second book in the Pax Arcana series, is just as addicting as the first.

Something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin.

Werewolf packs are being united and absorbed into an army of super soldiers by a mysterious figure who speaks like an angel and fights like a demon. And every Knight Templar -- keepers of the magical peace between mankind and magickind -- who tries to get close to this big bad wolf winds up dead. No knight can infiltrate a group whose members can smell a human from a mile away. . .no knight except one.

John Charming. Ex knight. Current werewolf. Hunted by the men who trained him, he now might be their only salvation. But animal instincts are rising up to claim John more powerfully than ever before, and he must decide if this new leader of wolves is a madman. . .or a messiah.

Fearless (Pax Arcana Book 3) by Elliott James

Prince Charming rescues a student in a small college town in this fast-paced urban fantasy with rich world building and a strong female lead.

Someone, somewhere, has declared war on Kevin Kichida, and that someone has a long list of magical predators on their rolodex. The good news is that Kevin lives in a town where Ted Cahill is the new sheriff and old ally of John Charming.

The attacks on Kevin seem to be a pattern, and the more John and his new team follow that thread, the deeper they find themselves in a maze of supernatural threats, family secrets, and age-old betrayals. The more John learns, the more convinced he becomes that Kevin Kichida isn't just a victim, he's a sacrifice waiting to happen. And that thread John's following? It's really a fuse . . .

Fearless is the third novel in an urban fantasy series which gives a new twist to the Prince Charming tale.

In Shining Armor (Pax Arcana Book 4) by Elliott James

This fairy godmother's got claws.

When someone kidnaps the last surviving descendant of the Grandmaster of the Knights Templar, it's bad news. When the baby is the key to the tenuous alliance between a large werewolf pack and the knights, it's even worse news. They're at each other's throats before they've even begun to look for baby Constance.

But whoever kidnapped Constance didn't count on one thing: she's also the goddaughter of John Charming. Modern-day descendant of a long line of famous dragon slayers, witch finders, and wrong righters. John may not have any experience being a parent, but someone is about to find out that he can be one mean mother. . .

In is the fourth novel in a series which gives a new twist to the Prince Charming tale.

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