Mad Love, Murder & Mayhem: Favorite English & Scottish Ballads

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Joshua Hampton puts together a collection of ballads by Francis James Child who was a Harvard professor in the 19th century. The ballads are paired with an illustration matching the theme of each one. The ballads tell of murderous plots, betrayal, heartbreak, and ghosts. Riddles Widely Expounded and The Elfin Knight are among the ballads which open the collection and set the tone with stories of challenges met to win over a betrothed. The Fair Flower of Northumberland features trickery in a medieval fashion with a tale of a maiden sought for marriage as a means for a knight to free himself. Willie O Winsbury stands out with its humor as Willie is saved from hanging due to his handsome looks. Lessons can also be useful throughout as one ballad Proud Lady Margaret features a man’s ghost teaching his sister not to be so haughty. Several other ballads can be found within telling the stories of drowned lovers, battle of wits, and revenge.

The tone and style is Gothic and dark with themes of marriage, love, murder, revenge, betrayal, and trickery. Several of the ballads focus on challenges presented in order to marry which often presented by a knight to a fair maiden. Though the maiden is just as cunning as the knight. The loss of love is also prevalent throughout as heartache is a key feature in several ballads, particularly in Fair Margaret and Sweet William. Ghosts are found throughout, often in the form of loves coming back from the dead and seeking out those in mourning. The style of writing is romantic and lyrical with some of the tales containing enchanting tones and having slight humorous qualities woven into the dark and murderous plots. Fairies and mermaids are often seen as beautiful and deadly omens, seen in a ballad telling of a mermaid drowning a ship and another of a Faerie Queen attempting to use a man as a tithe. Those who love ballads, rhymes, Gothic tone, and murderous tales will enjoy the works of Francis James Child.


Reviewed By:

Author Joshua Hampton
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 222 pages
Publisher Seven Crowns Publishing
Publish Date 2018-Jun-29
ISBN 9781717495693
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2018
Category Music & Movies
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