Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean

Of the entries in my Old Favorites week, urologist this is probably the latest-read of them. I first heard about this book because it was part of the Fairy Tales series, published by Tor Books with Thomas Canty covers. I’m lucky enough to have a copy of that hardback, signed by the author, even. Pamela Dean is a part of a Minnesota-Twin Cities f/sf author group that has produced a good deal of innovative books in the urban fantasy genre, as well as fairy tale retellings and high fantasy. This novel is a retelling of the Childe Ballad “Tam Lin”; a version of the lyrics is available here.

Janet Carter is a freshman at Blackstock College in Minnesota; the author herself has said it’s an analogue to Carleton College. It’s set in the early 70s, which makes the clothing interesting, and “The Lady’s Not for Burning” fairly recent. (It’s a play by Christopher Fry, extensively referenced in the text.) Janet’s two roommates are Molly and Christina, and early on they meet a group of young men, including Nicholas Tooley, Robert Armin, and Thomas Lane. As time passes, they become friends, but Janet starts to notice strange things. The Classics Department, for example, is rather weird. The head of the department is almost . . . worshipped. And what’s with the party they have at the end of the year? Continue reading Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean