Living Fae

(image based on ‘fantasy’ by lilawind on pixaay)


This attempts to describe and explain most of the people and things that appear in Growing Up Fae, Tales from Tara, Flying Free and On the Edge. The four volumes are now complete though there may be short stories in future. Links to the books are in the section Books to buy.

A couple of the characters below have only so far appeared in the letters Moth wrote to a human child. They are included for completeness and because they might decide to re-enter the story later. Every effort has been made to include all the names and vocabulary that the reader might wish to investigate but quite a few characters who appear very fleetingly have been left out. Moth’s letters are available as Answering Amanda which you can access in my free stuff

Places that are mentioned in all the volumes are real locations and can be found on maps online or offline. Some, like Alderley Edge, will have information sites. They are not all detailed here.

Words and names which appear in italics also have their own entries in the glossary.

The entries about the major characters have been written to include information up to the end of the last volume (On the Edge). They might therefore contain ‘spoilers’ if the reader looks at them early in the series but as this is in no sense a thriller, it probably doesn’t matter. Now that the final volume is published, the glossary will soon be taken down temporarily for updating. WordPress is not the place to start editing a table…

If you notice any serious gaps or inconsistencies, please don’t hesitate to contact Harlequin at with Living Fae Glossary as the subject line.






Age It is hard to know how old fairies are. They don’t celebrate birthdays. They count themselves as one year old at birth. They add a year each spring equinox. But they hibernate and do not age while they are in hibernation. As they don’t worry much about accuracy and are vague about numbers, they are unlikely to tell anyone their real age. Hair colour is from birth and does not change. Nor do fairies lose their hair, though some are born bald and all have at least small horns.


Agrimony A friend of Yarrow’s. He can take care of the troop if necessary but is not a leader by choice. Named for the plant, a medicinal herb. Some sources say the flowers are yellow, others that they are lilac, but all agree that the leaves (which resemble cannabis leaves) have tiny spots. Agrimony has freckles, unusual for a fairy. He has reddish-brown hair, brown eyes and lilac wings. He tends to wear yellow and lilac in a kind of ‘pied piper’ style. His unicorn is Sigh, who has markings (white and brown) like a pinto horse.


Alcohol Most fairy alcohol is made from forest fruits and flowers. However, fairies enjoy ‘human’ wine etc. French and Italian fairies make their wine from grapes, just like their human neighbours but English fae don’t have access to grapes in sufficient quantity.


Alderley Edge. Sometimes just called the Edge.  A wooded ridge in Cheshire, UK. Also the name of the village at the foot of the ridge.


Allergies Fairies are all more or less allergic to rowan (mountain ash). The berries cause swelling (and may be used to enhance the lips). The tree either nullifies spells or twists them.


Fairies are also allergic to potatoes and even a small amount will cause addiction, sometimes with fatal consequences.


All fairies react badly to iron.


Catfairies are allergic to cranberries and lily pollen can kill them. Catnip is a kind of recreational drug for them but should be used with care.


Foxfairies are allergic to peanuts. Feathers can drive them into a frenzy.


Amanda A human girl from Gee Cross. Harlequin’s family lived in her garden and she corresponded with Moth.


Andolindomina  A princess from Tara .A fancy, royal name, suggestive of luxury and indolence. Blonde with blue eyes. Transparent wings.



Araminta Harlequin’s unicorn. Mother of Solstice. She liked the name and thought it was pretty. She already knew she was pretty. Pearl white, with tail and mane that reflect sunset and dawn.


Arum, Lord Self-styled ‘Lord’ from the Isle of Man, who married Columbine. Named after wild lilies with poisonous berries. Wears white and red. Bald with light grey eyes.  White wings.




Beech A friend of the unicorn master. A tall, handsome fairy with a name to match. Wears green and brown.  Brown hair, brown eyes and dark skin.  Wings brown, shot with green.


Beech trees. Tall, handsome trees. Preferred homes in the wood. They produce beech nuts which can be eaten as nuts or ground, like acorns, to make a kind of coffee. The young leaves are also eaten as a vegetable or salad. The leaves are usually green but can be ‘copper’, a kind of deep red.


Beetle, Prince. Name of the current oberon before he was crowned. His name reflects his semi-scientific interest in all small aspects of nature – insects, fungi, pollen. Wears black.  Black hair and eyes. Iridescent black wings.


Blessing A goblin.
Bonding. A rider bonds with his unicorn, and they have a type of telepathic communication. Not all unicorns seek to bond and not all male fairies find, or want, unicorns. Most female fairies do not bond with unicorns but many of them adore being around unicorns and will beg for rides or grooming duties.


Bramble A childhood friend of Harlequin’s. Died in an accident. Wore purple. Brown hair and eyes.  Purple wings.


Briony Harlequin’s youngest sister; twin to Willow. Her name, that of a climbing plant with pretty berries, reflects her sweet, clinging nature. Wears white. Reddish hair and light grey eyes.  She does not look like Willow. Pale green wings.


Brownies. A type of fae. No wings. Closely linked to the land.




Catfairies An exotic subspecies of fairy, often with patterned fur; they have tails and many catlike traits. Not often seen on the Edge, but common in Tara. Some scholars think this type of fairy evolved from Scottish wild cats and is not truly related to the fairies found elsewhere. This is disputed but it is certain that there are no ‘half-breeds’ so possibly the two types cannot interbreed.


Chadkirk An old chapel and farm, not too far from Alderley Edge as the fairy flies. Quite near Gee Cross and Werneth Low. There are possible Roman connections and there is a ‘wishing’ well which is ‘dressed’ each spring by Christians but which definitely has a pre-Christian origin. Harlequin asked Dionysos to use it as the site for a portal because the well on the Edge is supposedly dedicated to the devil.


Charming /charm Fairies use charm, a type of hypnotic persuasion, to get their own way. Some of them are better at it than others and some fairies and humans are more susceptible than others. It is an unreliable talent.


Children Fairy children are few and far between unless your name is Flame. (Even then, there are big age gaps between the children). Twins are common. Children tend to be allowed a great deal of freedom until they are old enough to learn. See education. A fairy woman can have a child by a human male; the child will be totally fairy. However, if a fairy man sires a child by a human woman the child will be almost totally human although sometimes there are vestigial horn nubs on the scalp or the traces of wing cases on the back, and the child might show unusual empathy for animals, or be able to charm people almost without trying.


Cinnamon A brownie. A friend of Ginger. A temporary partner for Harlequin on Grenada. Tan skin like tree bark. Black hair and brown eyes.


Claws Fairies have retractable claws which can look like nails when fully withdrawn. (Toenails, too) Cat fairies have especially long, sharp ones.  The claws are strong and can help in climbing trees but they are thought to have evolved for fighting.


Cobweb Harlequin’s teenage brother. His name, which was taken from Midsummer Night’s Dream by Flame (his mother), who is fond of Shakespeare, reflects his looks; pale and delicate with silvery hair and grey eyes. Wears grey. Remarkably good at hiding, even from fairies. Pale grey wings with cobweb-type markings. Flame swears his father was human so he might well be only half-fae in origin but certainly doesn’t look it. See Children.


Cocklebur Infant son of Columbine and Arum. Named for a strong, spiny plant, native to America and Asia but grown in English gardens. It is poisonous as well as thorny so is doubly able to defend itself. It can be used to keep pests from other neighbouring plants, and to make a yellow dye. The seeds can be used in a type of ‘darts’ game. The baby has been named in the knowledge that he will be able to defend himself and his mother, and that he will also enjoy play. Columbine dresses him in yellow. Golden hair and green eyes. His wings, still not fully developed, show signs of being golden.


Cocoa A brownie. A friend of Ginger. A temporary partner for Harlequin on Grenada. Reddish brown skin, hair and eyes. A dusting of freckles.


Columbine Harlequin’s sister (a couple of years his junior), once married to Lord Arum, but now back in the wood. Mother of Cocklebur. She is named after the beautiful aqualegia flowers, delicate looking but strong. But her name also suggests the heroine of the Commedia dell’arte, the Italian theatrical tradition in which Columbine was played by a woman well before that was legal on an English stage. So, a feminist with theatrical tendencies. (This ‘heroine’ was also supposed to be the voice of reason in the stories.)   She wears shades of pink, blue and lilac, or occasionally white or cream tinged with green.  Black hair and eyes. Looks very like Harlequin – they could pass for twins. But her wings are cream.


Cooking This is done over small fires, using traditional methods associated with camping etc. There are also small ovens built on the haybox principle. At festivals, large fires may be lit and large animals such as deer roasted on spits.


Cubs Offspring of a union between fairies and werewolves. Usually born in litters of three or four. They do not have wings but inherit the ability to shape-shift. The ones in the story are called Mab, May, Gorse and Furze. At the end of Flying Free they are still too young to have clearly defined individual personalities.
Cursing Similar to charming but malicious. Works well on the young/vulnerable/unsuspecting.




Dandelion See puck.


Delver A leprechaun from Ireland. He wants to see if the streets of London are paved with gold.
Devil Yarrow’s unicorn. Father of Solstice. Devil chose his name to suit his personality and to suit Yarrow. (Another name for the herb yarrow is ‘devil’s nettle’.) Copper, large and leader of the herd..


Dionysos A god or at least a supernatural being who met Harlequin at a Samhain party in New York and later visited the Edge.


Disguise A unicorn who bonds with a goblin.
Dogrose. One of Harlequin’s temporary fairy partners. Named after the wild roses that climb through the hedgerows and sprawl about the lanes. Wears pink. Blonde with grey eyes and pink wings.


Dragonfly. Moth’s father. Lives in the wood and would love to have Flame in his tree again. Named for the predatory insects that hover. His dark grey wings have a metallic sheen. Wears iridescent fabrics. Hair is greenish black; green eyes. His unicorn is Xanthippe.




Edge, the Another way of referring to the ridge above the village of Alderley Edge. The Edge is famous; there are legends which suggest Arthur and his knights lie underneath waiting till England needs them and Alan Garner used the location in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, a popular children’s book.
Education Fairy children gather in groups to learn flying, spelling, charming, granting wishes,  art, literacy (and literature, especially Shakespeare and poetry), geography, fae history, botany, herbal medicine and first aid, music, dancing,  care of unicorns, basic numeracy and cookery. The teacher is usually an older sibling, passing down knowledge and skills. This could be why numeracy is so very basic. Obviously fairies, like humans, have different talents and abilities. Different tastes, too. Despite a taste for food, Harlequin never really got to grips with cookery although he excelled at other subjects.


Eglantine, Prince. A rather boring but very handsome royal. Named for the plant which is a sweet smelling wild rose. Wears pink, and a lot of perfume.  Golden hair and blue eyes.  Golden gauzy wings. A sort of male version of Dogrose.


Eichhorn A German Elfe, or fairy. Very close to Harlequin and Yarrow. The name means squirrel and Eichhorn is at home in trees. German Elfe have lost their wings but are excellent climbers. They ride large dogs rather than unicorns. Eichhorn is lithe, beautiful and usually semi-naked. Black hair and eyes.


Elder A fairy from Wales who comes to the Edge in search of excitement and romance. She has creamy skin, purplish eyes, and green wings.
Elfe German fairies. Their wings have atrophied after centuries of exclusive forest dwelling.


Equinox The time when day and night are equal at the latitudes where ‘our’ fae live. Everyone ages a year at the spring equinox. There are fairs at the major centres. The wild hunt takes place. Royals may visit other parts of faerie.
Erin The court unicorn master, responsible for the unicorns of the royal guard and for training unicorn masters for other communities.
Errantry, Prince Columbine’s father. A traditional royal name suggestive of knights and squires. Is reputed to have dozens of unacknowledged children littered around the realm. (Was this true of the original knights errant?) Wears gold and silver. Silver hair and black eyes.  Gold wings.


Eyelids Fairies have a third ‘nictitating membrane’ like cats.




Fading. Old fairies start to fade. They usually withdraw from fairy society although two or three might live together to help each other. Eventually they fade to nothing, the fairy equivalent of death. By this time they have usually lost interest in life. In rare cases a younger fairy will fade rapidly as the result of an accident. This is considered an immense tragedy not only by the family but by the whole community.


Fae ‘Magical’ beings who share our world but usually remain hidden. Include fairies, sprites etc. Fae academics disagree about whether unicorns can be called fae but agree that they are magical. Supernatural beings such as Dionysos are not fae.


Faerie The world/culture of fairies/fae.


Fair There is a fair at each equinox and solstice. At the spring one, all fairies are deemed to be year older.  All fairies will try to attend their nearest fair.


Fairy A type of fae. Considered supernatural by humans, or else not believed in at all. Fairly common worldwide. Most (not all) look human at a quick glance.


Fairy Ring Dancing at the fair. Although fairies do as many different dances as humans, their traditional dance is a ring dance and this always opens the main ball.


Ferdy A foxfairy from Ireland.
Fingers Fairies usually have six fingers on each hand (and six toes on each foot). As this is an occasional mutation among humans, the fae don’t always hide their extra fingers but will wear mitten-style gloves if the weather makes that appropriate.


Flame. Harlequin’s mother. Has had a series of partners who have fathered her seven children. She is unusual amongst fairies in having so many offspring. Her most recent partner is the unicorn master, Rowan.  Named for her red hair and fiery temper. Can hurt anyone who gets too close to her. Wears shades of red and orange. Black eyes. Wings are flame coloured and appear to flicker.


Flying. Fairies have wings and can fly but they have to be taught as children. They have limited stamina and can’t travel long distances. Nor can they travel far over water as water, especially salt water, leaches magic and also tends to provide nowhere to land and rest. Unicorns do not fly but occasionally a fairy will spell a unicorn lighter so that he/she can be carried by the fairy (gripping with the calves) for a very short distance e.g. over an obstacle like a locked gate. Harlequin is good at this spell.


Food. Fairies rarely eat meat though they sometimes cook small creatures such as dormice. They do, however, feast on venison if the hunters have ‘culled’ an old stag. Exotic treats are sometimes available from the goblin markets. These may have been stolen from human shops. Some fairies ‘shop’ using spelled leaves or credit cards. They do not farm but appreciate the efforts of human farmers and sometimes repay a farmer e.g. by spelling health for his herd or by ripening his wheat. They do sometimes cultivate the fungi that grow on their trees. Some of the berries and leaves eaten by fairies would be toxic, in large doses, for humans. But seriously poisonous plants like foxgloves, lilies, yew and deadly nightshade, are avoided by fairies as well. However, like humans, they might use them for medicinal purposes.


Forget-me-not. One of Harlequin’s temporary fairy partners. Named for the flower and for the way that, once met, she remains in the memory. Wears blue. Ash blonde hair and blue eyes. Light blue gauzy wings.


Foxfairies A sub-species of fairy, very rare and wild. Most fae have never met one but there are legends. They are believed to be closer to the earth and to other animals than most fae. Their wings are sometimes vestigial and even when they have fully developed wings they rarely fly by choice, preferring to run. They are very agile, even more so than most fae. They have bushy tails which can be used as ‘wraps’ in cold weather.


Garden fairies. Some fairies live ‘at the bottom of the garden’ if the garden is big, with wild areas and trees.  Unicorn riders are expected to remain near the herd. Their unicorns would probably insist. Yarrow moved to Alderley Edge when he bonded with Devil.


Gee Cross A village at the foot of Werneth Low. Harlequin grew up in a garden in Gee Cross


Giles Peasblossom’s father.  Nothing is known of him, or at least, Flame and Peasblossom aren’t telling. Giles is not a usual fairy name and it is possible that he is/was human. If so, Flame probably spelled his memory so that he has only a hazy and inaccurate recollection of her. On the other hand, it is possible that he is/was fae and his parents simply liked the name.


Ginger A brownie.  Coffee coloured skin and ginger hair. Black eyes.  A temporary partner of Harlequin’s (along with her friends) on Grenada.


Goblins. Goblins are a type of fae. They cannot fly and have very little magic although they can affect goods they have made (or handled) on a short term basis.  They often live near fairies and trade with them, accepting spells for goods. Goblin markets, usually underground, are popular. Some are permanent; others are weekly or perhaps seasonal. Goblins have a possibly undeserved reputation for being untrustworthy. This may stem from their extreme ugliness (except, of course, to other goblins).
Goosegrass Cobweb’s friend from Gee Cross. Named for the plant with sticky seeds. Things stick to Goosegrass. He doesn’t deliberately steal or cheat but he ends up owning things that belong to other fairies. Wears pale green. Hair is greenish blond. Green eyes. Green wings.


Granite A stonesprite; a friend of Slate’s. Named for his toughness. Beige hair, rough grey skin, and sparkling mottled wings.  Wears beige and grey.




Harlequin. A fairy. ‘Hero’ (and narrator) of the story. Aged about twenty-two when he begins to tell his tale. Named for Arlecchino from the Commedia dell’arte. The original was meant to be immoral, caring only about food and women.  This Harlequin enjoys food and sex but has a well developed sense of fairy morality (which is unlike the human kind). He prefers to dress in black and white, and although he doesn’t wear a mask, he tends to mask his feelings. Black hair and eyes. Black wings with feathery white streaks. He and Columbine look like identical twins until they fly.  Their wings are different colours.


Hibernating Fairies hibernate during very cold weather and during human wars that affect their locality. This makes it hard to assess their age correctly. Hibernation is involuntary but unicorn riders can manage to stave it off if a wild hunt is imminent and females can go into a light state of hibernation if they are likely to be needed e.g. to cater for a royal visit.


Hornbeam A fairy from Whetton whose unicorn, Silk, has died.
Horns.(1) Fairies have small horns, almost hidden by their hair, which is usually thick. Unicorns have long spiral ones. Both can be spelled effectively invisible so that fairies can pretend to be humans riding horses.


Horns.(2) Horns are the favourite musical instruments of the fairies. They range from the simple hunting horn to the Cor Anglais and the French Horn. All can produce haunting music


Humans Fairies regard most humans as clumsy, frightening, warlike and sinister. For this reason they avoid them and encourage human disbelief. However, some fairies, like Harlequin and Moth, don’t altogether believe the propaganda and are trying to find out for themselves. Humans are known to have some uses, like farming and gardening. Human children have teeth that are ideal for goblin carvings and jewellery. (Fortunately the teeth fall out of their own accord.) Human science is regarded as a kind of magic. They are considered fair game so far as spelled money and other tricks are concerned. Fairies are not supposed to let humans suspect their fairy nature.  Many fairies can ‘pass’ as human and some fairies seek human sexual partners. Interbreeding is possible but rare. (See e.g. Giles, Joanne and Kieran).Whilst human wars are regarded with horror and make fairies hibernate, the main current concern is the lack of human respect for the environment, particularly the woods.




Invisibility Fairies are not invisible but with luck or talent they can charm humans into not noticing them or they can stand very still and blend with their background, again using a charm.


Iris. One of Harlequin’s human partners.


Iron Iron used to kill fairies. The slightest touch was enough. Nowadays they have developed some immunity though it still makes them ill. As a result, they use silver and other non-ferrous metals for utensils, weapons etc. This has, of course, meant a ‘failure’ to develop along industrial lines, though it is doubtful whether there would ever have been enough fairy scientists or engineers to make ‘progress’ possible. It may even explain their reliance on, and perfection of ‘magical’ talents.


Ivy, Princess Name of the current titania before she was crowned. The name is a simple reference to a plant that will cover everything, given time. She wears shades of green, and there are berries twined in her crown.  Greenish black hair and green eyes.  Pale green wings streaked with silver.




Joanne One of Harlequin’s human partners


John An online friend of Harlequin. He lives, with assorted friends, in a castle belonging to one of them. From time to time they invite others to join them for parties, holidays etc. As they appear seldom it is not worth listing all their names. ‘John and friends’ should be adequate.


Julia. Toadflax’s human girlfriend.




Keanu A small human child, rescued by Harlequin


Kieran A part fairy, temporary partner of Harlequin’s. Born in America. He was given a human name and wears anything he likes.  Blond hair and blue eyes. (Not unlike Yarrow). Vestigial horns and wings.


Kinder Scout A mountain in the Pennine chain across northern England. The entire chain is very ancient and the mountains, while quite high above sea level, are eroded and rounded.  Visible from Werneth Low.  There is a goblin market beneath from time to time.


Kinkatail One of Patch’s kittens. She accompanies Hornbeam to Whetton.


Lime One of Harlequin’s temporary fairy partners. Named for the lime or linden tree, rather than the fruit. The linden is a traditional and handsome tree that provides shade. Lime tends to wear leaf green. Brown hair and green eyes.  Greenish, transparent wings.


Lord of the hunt The post is hereditary and the fairy family who hold the honour are born with antlers rather than horns. The current lord is the titania’s hunt master.  His name is Stag, for obvious reasons. He sometimes leads the wildhunt in outlying fairy settlements but spends most of his time in Tara. Brown hair and eyes. Huge twelve point antlers.  Heavy black wings. His son is Velvet.


Luck. Twins are lucky. So is an autumn leaf if you catch it as it falls. A cat can be lucky if it curls up on your feet in a cold spell. Four leaved clover are probably lucky and are cultivated in hope.  Wood may be lucky if you touch it at the right moment. Of course, a fairy can always wish someone luck and this will definitely be more effective than a human doing the same. See superstition.




Mace A male brownie on Grenada. Red hair, brown skin and eyes.  A friend of Ginger.


Magic Fairies have certain talents.  These include charming, cursing, spelling and granting wishes by means of spells. They all stem from a highly developed ability to use hypnosis, even on subjects who are not present (so that for example love charms, and spelled money work even if the fairy is absent). There are other minor talents such as creating and using a small palm light or flame, and ‘shrinking’ to fit smallish spaces. Humans can also perform magic (having ‘green’ fingers, communicating with animals, or creating some works of art). Fairies regard human science as magic. Luck is not magic. It is mostly superstition, but fairies think you make your own luck – and if they like you they might try to make some for you.


Mal Full name: Malachi Hood. A werewolf who bonds with a fairy.
Marquis. Toadflax’s unicorn. White. Liked the sound of an aristocratic name.


Maus A young Elfe in Germany. Brown – brown hair, eyes, skin and clothes.  Named for the small creature that lives in woods and cornfields and tries to hide from humans.


Mephistopheles Vervain’s unicorn. Silver with a bad temper. Devil is a month older and got the name of choice. Known as Mephy for short.


Micky A young human from Australia who contacts Yarrow via social media. In this volume he lives in a squat in Adelaide. His friends are Pete, Danno and Cindy, and later Pax (in the final volume),
Milk The titania’s horse. Traditionally, the queen rides but does not have a unicorn for official occasions.
Molly Sloe’s unicorn
Money Fairies do not use money amongst themselves. They pay goblin traders in spells. To trade in the human world they turn leaves into banknotes which revert to leaves, usually by the next morning. They also spell credit cards so that they can buy human goods and services. The labyrinthine ways of the card companies ensure that this is never noticed. Recently, some fairies have learnt to use the cards in ATMs



Morality Fairies are possibly amoral by human standards but they regard humans as positively immoral, in their attitude to sex, the environment and war. Most fairies are bisexual, largely unconcerned about property rights and pragmatic about death.  But they regard environmental pollution and technological warfare as horrific acts of desecration.


Moth. Harlequin’s sister. About 11 when the story begins. Named for the beautiful flying creatures of the night (she may take risks and might try to reach the moon) and also for one of the attendants in Midsummer Night’s Dream. When the family lived in Gee Cross, Moth corresponded with a human girl, Amanda. She resents wearing brown (provided by Peasblossom) and is sure that when she grows up she will find some pink moths. Brown hair and eyes.  Brown wings with coppery streaks.


Moving Moving tree is a traumatic experience for most fairies though not for Flame, who makes a habit of it. First there is the problem of finding and/or negotiating for an uninhabited tree to move into. Good trees may be temporarily uninhabited if the owner fades and has no children or their children already have trees. A fading fairy will leave their tree in the hands of a branch agency. This is usually run by goblins and could be the major reason goblins are regarded as untrustworthy.  Flame moved to the unicorn master’s tree but as he had no desire (or room) to house the family he found a large tree which had been empty for some time because of its size when the children moved to the Edge. As a result, it didn’t cost too many spells. Harlequin moved a few trees along to live with Yarrow, who inherited his tree from his grandfather (who has not quite faded but has retired to Wales). Peasblossom found the family tree cramped as the children grew older, and tried to adapt a nearby sapling for Cobweb, with dire results.




Nanna An elderly fairy woman who comes to the Edge.
Names Most fairies have names which suggest flowers, trees, birds etc. Not all. The parents choose the name with some sort of prescience about the child’s future and/or personality/colouring. It is unusual to find two fairies with the same name in the same settlement but distant fairies may share a name and then of course someone might move. Unicorns are named for the time or season of their birth then rename themselves when they bond with fairies.


Nether Alderley. A Cheshire village near Alderley Edge with a mediaeval watermill, restored for tourists.


Nocturnal Fairies are nocturnal. Whether this has always been the case or whether they have turned to the night to avoid humans is open to dispute. Some fairies have naturally dark skin. The majority are very pale and burn easily if exposed to sunlight. They see well in the dark and dislike strong sunlight but these could be later adaptations to living a nocturnal life.


Nutmeg A brownie. A friend of Ginger on Grenada. Brown skin and amber eyes. Red hair. A temporary partner for Harlequin.




Oak The Tara court historian. He travels widely, on a donkey, Rufus.
Oberon The king of the fairies based in Tara is always known as the oberon. Shakespeare probably mistook this for a name rather than a title. The oberon may or may not be married to the titania. The present oberon is Prince Beetle and he is married to the current titania.


Oliver Thorn’s human boyfriend, met at The Wizard. Full name: Oliver Prince.


Palace The palace in Tara lies underground. It is large and beautiful with many rooms including state rooms, libraries, ballrooms, unicorn stables etc. The fairies who live there consider it the centre of the universe. Other fairies prefer trees.


Patch A calico cat, pregnant when rescued from human thugs by Yarrow.
Patrick Patrick is a travelling companion on Harlequin’s holiday in the Caribbean.  Although apparently human, he seems to move between the nineteenth and twenty first centuries without difficulty. He has been in the army and has seen active service but it is not clear which war or wars he experienced. Time travellers are not fae and little is known about them.
Pax Pax is Micky’s friend in Australia. He is a student and has a car called Sheila. He is, of course, human.
Peasblossom. Harlequin’s older sister. She looks after the younger members of the family. Somebody has to.  She has chestnut brown hair and very deep blue, almost purple eyes. She wears pinks, blues and lilacs. Lilac wings with tinges of pink at the edges.


Piper Harlequin’s father. Unusually for a fairy, he cannot remain in one place and has travelled extensively. Naturally, no unicorn has deigned to join him. He has dark grey hair with streaks of brown – it has always been this colour; the grey is not due to age. His wings are mostly grey with streaks of brown to match his hair and his eyes are dark grey but reflect his surroundings.
Pookie Eichhorn’s riding hound.
Portal It is possible to provide a door or portal providing instant communication between two places that are a long way apart. A well or spring, especially one where the old gods may have been worshipped, provides a good site. It is done by bending space (quite technical) and is at present only practised by beings like Dionysos. It is extremely useful if you want to take a unicorn from England to Florida, or if you need to get home from New York in a hurry. Goblins can put fairies in touch with portal makers and charge huge fees (in spells) for the purpose.


Potatoes Fairies find them very addictive and almost totally lacking in nutrition.  An addiction is almost instant and the fairy no longer wants anything else. Provided there is a supply of potato the addicted one will not die but all normal life is shelved in the interests of obtaining supplies. As there are no potatoes near any fairy settlements this means the fairy must live away from friends and family. They will become skeletally thin and very unhappy
Puck The puck is the Tara equivalent of a prime minister. Again, it’s a title rather than a name. Chosen by the titania and oberon for his political ability.  The present puck is called Dandelion and has a halo of golden hair, dark green eyes and white wings. He is strong as well as clever.


Pumice A stonesprite; a friend of Slate’s. Dark grey skin and eyes. Light grey hair with silver streaks, and silvery wings. Wears silver.  Named for his lightness and affinity for the volcano where he was born.


Purr A catfairy in Ireland who comes to Tara. His fur is completely black.
Pussyfoot A stray cat who found Harlequin’s tree and settled, first there, and then with Peasblossom.




Quicksilver. A fairy in Tara.


Rafferty A catfairy in Tara. He has tabby colouring. He is the court librarian.
Rainbow A water fairy on Dominica. Dark hair, eyes and skin. Wings that reflect the surroundings. Twin to Waterfall.


Rams Welsh fae don’t have unicorns because the mountain trails are too steep and stony. Instead, they ride rams with heavy fleece and large curled horns.
Religious and other observances Some fairies believe in a goddess who seems to be a personification of nature. Most don’t, though they may curse (fairy curses or mere bad language) using her name. Most fairies celebrate the two solstices, the two equinoxes and Samhain (human Halloween). They also celebrate May Day and New Year. Marriage ceremonies may be performed by the oberon or the puck. Naming ceremonies involve the local community. Death, or fading, is mourned privately and any mortal remains are returned to the earth, usually beneath the roots of a favourite tree, sometimes simply left on top of the earth and charmed to keep animals away. The fae are aware of other supernatural beings (like Dionysos) who have different powers. Whilst they know these beings, or perhaps their ancestors, were worshipped in Ancient Greece and Rome, the fae do not regard them as gods in any religious sense though they might refer to them as deities simply because it’s an easy and traditional way to describe them.


Robin. One of Harlequin’s childhood/teenage friends.  Named for the cheerful garden bird. Brown hair and eyes. Scarlet wings. Wears brown and red.


Rookery Sometimes known as Old Rookery. An elderly fairy on the Edge.
Rowan (fairy) The unicorn master on the Edge when the story begins. Harlequin’s stepfather.
Rowan (tree) Sometimes known as mountain ash. A tree that produces an allergic reaction in most fairies and can spoil spells. Humans used to wear sprigs to protect themselves from fairies.


Royal guard This troop of unicorn riders accompanies the titania on her travels, providing both protection and a guard of honour.  The members may be asked to patrol parts of the kingdom, and any of the royals, or the puck, can give them tasks connected with the security of the realm. Some members are permanent and spend their lives stationed in Tara. Others, usually the best of local riders, are called for three or six month periods of duty. A winter tour of duty is almost always six months for a fairy from mainland Britain because of the difficulties of winter travel.


Royal/royalty There is a large hereditary fairy royal family. The current oberon and titania are chosen from among them by vote. All fairies may vote. All. Including babies. So may unicorns. The emphasis is on ‘may’. In practice the Tara population votes before the rest have even heard there’s an election and the coronation is the day after the voting. Nobody suggested it was a democracy.


Rufus Oak’s donkey.


Samhain Roughly equates to the human Hallowe’en. The fae believe (when they aren’t being prosaic) that the curtains between the worlds (natural and supernatural) are thin at this time.
Science Fairies tend to regard human science, especially anything involving chemistry or physics, as a kind of magic. One they can’t do. Their lack of concern for numbers and accuracy sort of gets in the way. So, to a lesser extent, does their problem with handling iron. But they have an instinctive grasp of biology and practise psychology without a second thought. Their medical science is largely based on traditional remedies but is not superstition, and usually works.


Selkies A branch of fae. Seals at sea and human on land. There is a legend that humans can keep them on land by hiding their sealskins. Related to mermaids and kelpies, who do not appear in this volume and therefore have no entries in this glossary.


Sex Most fairies are bisexual though many settle for one partner and remain in a monogamous relationship for years. Very few fairies are concerned about privacy. Even fewer are worried about infidelity though they do like to know who has fathered the children.  Sometimes a fairy might be jealous but often only if they are in a bad mood or are surprised. Fairies can (and do) have sex with other types of fae and with humans. Paedophilia (in the sense of sex with a fairy below the age of puberty), incest and bestiality are virtually unknown. Although there are fae like selkies and catfairies who appear to contradict the last, this is not the case as they are intelligent beings, as are werewolves and other supernaturals. Fairies are fierce and enthusiastic lovers. In faerie a sex therapist would be out of a job.


Sigh Agrimony’s unicorn. Looks like a pinto horse, white with reddish brown patches. He chose the name because his rider’s choice of costume made him sigh.


Silk Hornbeam’s unicorn who died in Whetton.
Simon One of Harlequin’s human partners, a teenager who feels strongly about environmental issues.


Size Fairies are near enough human sized – slighter, in general, but able to ‘pass’. Never tall or broad by human standards. A tall fairy (e.g. Yarrow) is about 5’6”. They can squeeze through narrow gaps and hide in places humans would find inaccessible. This may be due to magic, confidence or very flexible joints.


Slate A stonesprite. A temporary partner of Harlequin’s (on the island of Montserrat). Named for his silver grey skin, and eyes. Sparkling white hair, and transparent wings. Wears grey


Sloe (1) A fairy in Tara who is used as a messenger by the titania. Dark and beautiful. His unicorn is Molly.
Sloe (2) A black panther who leaves Surrey and arrives on the Edge.
Smudge One of Patch’s kittens. The runt of the litter, with a a squint in her yellow eyes. Mostly white, with dark-tipped ears and tail, and a smudge of a mark on top of her head.
Solstice. (1) A jet black unicorn foal. Sire: Devil. Dam: Araminta.  Born at the summer solstice. Later, when bonded, he says his name is Lucifer.


Solstice. (2) The solstices are the times when day and night are at their longest and shortest. The fae believe that at the winter solstice the sun must be tempted or charmed to return. There are parties and fairs and the wild hunt takes place, either for the week following the solstice or for the week following the New year. The local unicorn troop can choose, and will do so in accordance with the weather forecasts. Often, the royals visit distant parts of the kingdom for celebrations..
Spells and spelling Fairies can cast spells which enhance natural properties e.g. they can open flowers, wake hibernating animals, change the weather within limits. They can spell things invisible though this is possibly a form of charming. For a spell to work at a distance the fairy needs a physical link e.g. a hair. Spells do not usually work on the spell caster; family members or friends may be asked to help. Spelling ability varies much like intelligence does, though the two are not correlated. High ability brings dyslexia in ‘human’ spelling and this is compounded by age. Spelling needs a lot of teaching and a lot of practice. It is costly in terms of time and energy.


Spice A male brownie on Grenada. Coffee coloured skin with freckles. Black hair and eyes. A friend of Ginger.


Sprites A branch of fae. Not always winged. Various kinds.


Stag See lord of the hunt


Starling A fairy from Whetton who comes to the Edge and then trains as a unicorn master in Tara.
Stonesprites A type of sprite living in barren or mountainous regions. Stone colouring, sharp angular bodies, a higher than usual ability to blend with their surroundings.


Stripe A catfairy in Tara. He is a permanent member of the royal guard and has a coat striped like a tiger. His unicorn is Briar. Quicksilver is his boyfriend.
Superstitions Most fairies will touch wood for luck even while they say the idea is rubbish. They also cultivate four leaved clovers and treasure them. Few of them believe in elves; the German Elfe (who are a subspecies of fairy and not elves) probably gave rise to the legend as it appears in old stories or modern writers like Tolkien. They do, however, believe in monsters and ogres.  There is a strong belief that the moon is made of silver and that the dark side is inhabited by dragons. When fairies see a hare they are supposed to spit into the wind and repeat a secret mantra three times.  Twins are thought of as lucky, which is odd because they are quite common. Fairies do not share human superstitions about ladders, tables etc. because they do not use such things. And a black cat is just a black cat unless it is a catfairy.


Swapping In the goblin markets the fairies swap spells for goods. Some fairies become swapaholics. Most fairies resent the idea of shopping with money.




Taproot An elderly fairy on the Edge.
Tara Tara, near Dublin, is the site of the palace of the ancient kings of Ireland. Fairies have now taken over and their palace is underground.


Teeth Fairies will assist goblins in collecting human milk teeth – they accept goods in lieu of payment for the labour. The teeth are carved by the goblins and used in the manufacture of jewellery. No fairy has ever left a coin under a child’s pillow. The teeth are usually rescued/excavated from rubbish bins. Most fairies are puzzled by the human legends about the ‘tooth fairy’.


Thorn A fairy on the Edge. He has very pale sharp features and huge black and white wings. His unicorn is Blackberry, whose coat is near-black with hints of purple.
Titania The fairy queen in Tara is always known as the titania. Shakespeare may have thought it was a name rather than a title. The then titania was called Mab, and the puck was called Robin. The current titania is Ivy and the puck is Dandelion. The name of Shakespeare’s oberon is uncertain.


Toadflax Harlequin’s best friend. Named for ivy-leaved toadflax, a strong creeping plant that will take over entire gardens if allowed. Toadflax will do anything, go anywhere. Usually dragging Harlequin in his wake. Brown hair, green eyes and lilac wings. His unicorn is Marquis.


Toes Fairies generally have six toes (with retractable claws) on each foot. In the case of other fae such as selkies, these may be webbed. Elfe have developed prehensile toes to assist climbing. Most fae, including fairies, prefer to go barefoot but will wear shoes or boots for fashion purposes or to pass as human. There is a fairy saying that if it’s cold enough to need shoes everybody should be hibernating. Of course, the exception to this is the unicorn troop who need boots when it’s very cold and sometimes just wear them to look smart.


Trees Trees are regarded as ideal homes by most fairies (other than the Tara residents). When a suitable tree is chosen there is still some arboriculture to be undertaken. Flexible young branches are plaited so that they grow together forming a platform. This is lined with lichen and moss, some of which will ‘move in’ on a permanent basis. Mostly, the moss acts as a carpet and the lichen provides decoration. Leaves make screens in summer. In the depths of winter most fairies hibernate and in any case are not terribly bothered about privacy.  At least two ‘layers’ are plaited; the upper one will form a ceiling, protecting sleeping fairies from rain or snow, and from too much summer sun. Fairies keep very few permanent belongings but those they have are stored in knot holes in the tree or hung on adjacent branches and twigs. Good trees are usually passed down to future generations or gifted to family members. Sometimes fairies move, like Harlequin’s family, and negotiate for a good tree in the new location.


Twins Twins are common amongst fairies and are considered lucky. Triplets and other multiple births are unknown.  It is a good thing twins are common; babies are not a frequent occurrence amongst fairies. Willow and Briony are twins.




Unicorn master The unicorn master is the resident veterinarian. He should work well with the leader of the troop but does not usually ride a unicorn himself. Harlequin’s local unicorn master at the start of the story is not ideal. He also happens to be Harlequin’s stepfather and the father of Willow and Briony.


Unicorn meadow A clearing on the Edge (or near any fairy settlement except Tara) where the unicorns congregate. They are usually invisible to humans as they can hide behind a blade of grass and their coats reflect the night sky.


Unicorns Unicorns are like horses but often come in pearlescent or metallic colours and have spiral horns.  They are possibly a kind of equine fae. They bond with fairy riders (almost always male) and communicate with them via a sort of telepathy. Their legendary preference for virgins is merely a legend, but they prefer young people, a type of ‘innocence’ not often found in humans and a quietness of spirit not often found in hunting human males. Thus are legends born. Unicorns name themselves when they bond. Until then they are given names signifying their time of birth. (e.g. Solstice, February, Summer). Unicorn hair is used in the manufacture of jewellery; shavings of the hooves and horn of a dead unicorn may be used to make ‘remembrance’ jewellery. The horns themselves make goblets or hunting horns. Unicorns do not live as long as fairies but they do last a great deal longer than horses. They are never shod, but they are groomed nightly and some will consent to wearing flowers or other decorations. Their shit is impervious to magic and has to be moved by shovel. Their spit has medicinal properties. They refuse to wear any saddles, bridles, reins etc. and regard themselves as equal partners in the riding process. Bonded unicorns are expected to train, with their riders, to form the wild hunt. Unicorns choose their own adult names.




Velvet Son of Stag. Sometimes stands in for him at festivals etc and is training to take over at some hazy future date. Brown hair, eyes and wings. Eight point antlers (at present). His unicorn is Crown.
Veronica Speedwell, Lady A lady-in-waiting from Tara. Accompanies the titania on visits to outlying woods such as Alderley Edge. Named for a pretty but invasive creeping plant that will take over a lawn in a very short space of time. Green-gold hair and wings. Blue eyes.  Wears blue.


Vervain A friend of Yarrow’s. Named after the herb which is also known as the ‘enchanter’s plant’. The herb has many medicinal uses, including an ability to combat depression and is traditionally known as a female aphrodisiac. Vervain lives up to his plant’s reputation. Sand coloured hair, skin and wings. Blue eyes.  Wears blue and green.  His unicorn is Mephistopheles.


Vole A fairy in Whetton. Half-brother to the twins Briony and Willow. Original rider of Wrath.


Wasp An unpopular fairy in Tara with yellow and black striped wings. He is a bureaucrat who takes himself too seriously.
Water fairies A subspecies of fairies who have chosen to live in rainforests. They have given up some of their magical abilities and their flying stamina in order to enjoy the warm, wet forests and the waters around them. Not to be confused with kelpies (water horses)


Waterfall A water fairy on Dominica. Twin to Rainbow.(See Rainbow for description).


Watersprites Sprites who enjoy living near and in water. Not to be confused with kelpies or selkies or water fairies.


Werneth Low A low hill in north east Cheshire. Gee Cross is at its foot. It is a designated ‘country park’ for human recreation. There is usually a weekly goblin market underneath. It is well known locally as a place to gather ‘magic’ mushrooms.


Whetton A village in Staffordshire. There is a fae community nearby.
Wild hunt Each solstice and equinox the unicorn troops ride every dawn for a week in a wild hunt to clear the area of spotted snakes, thorny hedgehogs, newts, blindworms, etc. They also cull aged/sick animals such as stags and a special meeting of the Hunt may be called between the major festivals for that purpose. The lord of the hunt may grace a local hunt with his presence.


Willow Harlequin’s youngest brother; Briony’s twin.  He is quite unlike his sister and has black hair, huge green eyes and wings that look like green watered silk. Willow is a plant that loves water. Willow may have been named for the tree’s ability to ‘weep’ beside streams. Green willow was often used to express mourning for a loved one who was far away, as in the English folk song ‘All around my hat’. It seems Flame must have sensed a sadness in Willow’s future.


Wings Fairies have wings that can be folded down into wing cases on the shoulder blades. The wings are strong and will carry a fairy some distance.  They may be a single pair or a double pair. They are usually, but not always, semi-translucent, but transparent and opaque ones are known. The colours vary and they may be monochrome, multi-coloured or patterned. The texture can vary too, from gauzy to velvety though they are never feathery. Some wings look metallic in moonlight. Although they look delicate, they are tough and can regenerate after injury.


Wishes Fairies can grant general wishes, for health, wealth, happiness etc.  Luck, too, though this is more of a problem area and it may be that the ‘luck’ is simply one of the other things. The effects don’t always last. If a human wished for a specific object, a fairy could wish them the money to buy it with. There is no truth to the legend about having to grant wishes; fairies will grant them out of gratitude which is how the legend arose. They get fed up after about three, which explains that legend too. Most fairies try to tell humans they can’t grant wishes, in order to avoid the whole issue.


Wizard, The A pub on Alderley Edge. English pubs (bars to the rest of the world but usually more than just bars) tend to have names like The Ship, The Red Lion, The Lamb, etc. These are always written with capitals and are familiar to English readers. The Wizard is named for the legend about Merlin sleeping under the Edge (but he sleeps in a lot of places in England, Wales and Brittany).


Wrath Vole’s unicorn. Huge. Charcoal grey with a black mane and tail. Later ridden by Elder.
Wren A fairy in Whetton. Vole’s mother.


Xanthippe Dragonfly’s unicorn. Bronze with a gold horn.  The name is attributed to the wife of Socrates, the daughter of Dorus and a character in the New Testament apocrypha. It is generally supposed to indicate a ‘shrew’ or ‘nag’. Xanthippe just liked the sound of it, and as her grandsire was called Apollo (one legend has him as the father of Dorus) she chose it and is sticking with it. However, she is a very gentle unicorn and never nags Dragonfly.




Yarrow Harlequin’s lover/boyfriend/partner/whatever. Leader of the local unicorn troop. Tall (for a fairy) with golden hair, dark blue eyes and velvety white wings. His unicorn is Devil. The medicinal herb for which he is named is also known as Noble Yarrow, Devil’s Nettle, Devil’s Plaything and Squirrel Tail. The references to Devil and Eichhorn are obvious. The flowers can be white or pink, depending on the calcium content of the soil, and there is a cultivated variety with yellow flowers. Yarrow wears white and pink. The herb is supposed to be dedicated to evil, but Yarrow is dedicated to Harlequin and to unicorns, in that order.




Zinnia A friend of Moth, on the Edge. She likes bright colours and neat clothing. Golden hair and orange wings. Zinnia