Title: The Christmas Fairy
Author: Phillip Sweeny
Published in December 2006 by StarDust Press
Retired Special Services officer, Jason Bakker, wants to farm - with sheep no less. His cattle rancher father would roll over in his grave if he were alive to hear this. As he travels the farmland of West Virginia, Jason feels a pull to go to Ireland; the reason why he now stands before the ticket counter at Pittsburgh’s airport, and without luggage.
His six hour layover at England’s Heathrow Airport is uneventful, as is his arrival to Shannon Airport in Ireland. Upon arriving in the small town of Athlone, Jason is quickly introduced to real estate agent, Alan Clancy. Alan shows Jason every large farm he has listed and after two days, the agent guesses that the man desires a smaller farm. Curiosity piqued, Alan asks about Jason’s family. With tears brimming, he briefly tells of his wife and baby’s passing twenty years ago, on Christmas Eve. Privately, Jason surmises how every night she visits his dreams, but when he reaches out for her, his wife vanishes. Alan senses his endless sorrow so changes the subject to how he comes to be in Ireland. Jason recounts how someone called to him, encouraging him to go. Alan asks Jason if he is Irish; believing that Ireland calls her people home sometimes. No, Jason is Dutch.
As they drive through the countryside scattered with sheep and cattle, a rundown cottage catches Jason’s eye. Getting out of the car for a closer look, the now familiar female voice beckons to Jason again, “Come to me.” However, Alan doesn’t seem inclined to show the place. Deaf to Jason’s insistence, the agent discourages him by pointing out the cottage’s faults; falling down fences, bad roof, barn riddled with bats and vermin, and a weedy field. Making no head-way with its rundown physical features, Alan discloses to Jason how the previous owners, two women, disappeared but leaving behind instructions to sell the property. Jason’s not deterred from owning the property as he walks toward the cottage. Entering the home Jason scans the rooms, before writing out a check to which he hands over to the real estate agent; surprised when the man makes no counter offer. He realizes that Alan is afraid of the place, making him wonder if it’s haunted. Returning to Athlone, Alan suggests Jason purchase supplies from Roscommon, the next town over, as no one locally will have anything he would need. Then, as Alan prepares to leave he parts with a blessing, “And may God have mercy on your soul.”
After buying roofing materials and new furniture in Roscommon, a few days later he finds all those purchases sitting on the entrance road to his cottage. He spots a note taped to one of the items that states the delivery person could no further, and then a request that he not buy from them ever again; more notes are found with the same message. Sitting in one his chairs, Jason is approached by an older gentleman who introduces himself as Mr. Kennedy; the veterinarian he contacted for buying some sheep. Mr. Kennedy confirms that the hundred and fifty year old cottage is haunted, not by ghosts but a banshee. As the story is told, a newly married couple move into the cottage but had a child seven months later, on Christmas Eve. The family is excommunicated from their church even though the mother and child died during the birthing. The husband, forever unfaithful, moves his mistress into the cottage soon after. Three weeks later both die while in a compromising position however, their whole skin was cleanly removed and hung from an apple tree.
The next couple fares better, living in the home four years and even having a small female child. Yet, another husband with a roving eye is caught with a barmaid provoking the wife to stab them to death. The wife then took to lustful behavior and eventually contracts syphilis; as a result declaring it her duty to infect every cheating male. The disease only passes to the deceitful husband and his mistress, but never the wife. In regards to the woman’s child, some believe the banshee took the girl in exchange for the one she lost. With his stories’ end, Mr. Kennedy helps Jason move the materials and furniture to the front porch, leaving him alone in the cottage. Feeling as if he is being watched, Jason announces to the empty house that he is a spy who knows when he is being observed. At that moment a piercing scream slashes through the quiet countryside. Later, Jason goes outside to relieve himself when hearing a woman’s soft voice singing a sad melody, coming from the barn. Entranced by her harmony, he lays down on the grassy lawn, surrendering to sleep. Jason’s seduction by a banshee has him experiencing more unusual events, for which he tells no one, while still holding firm to the belief that Irish folklore magic does not exist.
The Christmas Fairy is a charming tale that mixes Irish legend with Christmas creating an engrossing story. The plot is original but is presented from entirely a man’s point-of-view; he is the one who is chaste and struggling to not succumb to the ethereal’s seduction. A refreshing though delightful spin, I think.
The characters are clever and exciting, which includes an endearing spectral with an avid vengeance against cheating spouses. Jason is an impressive man who after twenty years still tears up when simply thinking of his wife; such devotion. Mr. Sweeny has previously written contemporary and mysteries, although has just recently launched an adventure into erotic fantasy; and he has done a fantastic job. Published by Star Dust Press, The Christmas Fairy is his first erotic novel however, Mr. Sweeny has a short story in the anthology, “Sultry Shades of Christmas”, published by Sultry Heat Publications. Mr. Sweeny’s works in progress include novels, “The Gift of Magic” and “Marla”; keep your eyes open for those to be published soon – I know I will.
A dedicated reader,