Riders of the Sidhe by John Duncan


WELCOME TO A COLLECTION of books I've written about angels, unicorns. goddesses, leprechauns and whatever else you see below. Click on the covers for more, or HERE if you'd like to email any comments.

At the bottom of this page are samples of some picture books which never quite got published for one reason or another. Two were written and illustrated and ready to go before the axe came down. Very frustrating, all that wasted effort and art. Still, you can read them here if you're interested.

Book cover

Book cover

Two more had got no further than ideas being punted around bookfairs like Frankfurt and London in the form of 'blads' - mock-ups a few pages long giving a taste of how the book would look and read. Usually when a book went ahead these samples did in fact simply become pages in that final book so they gave a pretty fair idea of the possibilities.

There's another complete book I've been vaguely hawking around for a few years without any luck. Apart from one glossy publisher's letter saying they'd love to do it and enclosed a contract. Someone had obviously even read the whole thing because there were some perceptive editorial comments. Such as that I might consider disguising some names to head off libel suits. So I got excited . . . till I came to the contract at the end and learned that the privilege of being published by them would cost me five grand and there was no very solid offer of help with distribution. Not vanity publishing at all, they assured me.

Luckily these days there's no need to go to a vanity publisher to get a book printed. Find a good editor, book designer and online printer and you can simply do it yourself. Visit my BOOKSHOP and you'll see.

Alternatively you can just read the book here by clicking on the cover above right. The book is about growing up in Africa in the 1950s and 60s, nothing to do with my usual themes of fantasy or folklore. Well, there is a bit as it happens but basically it's just a memoir of that vanished time and place. On the right is a companion photo album.

Book cover

Magazine cover

PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER 2018 was It Must Be Art, a second revised and expanded edition of The Art of Big O from a few years before. It probably really belongs in the Fantasy Art section but for various reasons it feels more at home here.

Click on cover right for more

It tells the story of Big O Posters, the wonderfully creative London company whose posters documented and to some extent shaped the youthful creative explosion of the late 60s and 70s. Here we've collected much of that art and also traced the careers of many of the artists concerned after the company's demise in 1980, so it's not just a catalogue of published posters but an account of the kind of art they gave rise to. Much of the story is told in the artists' own words but I've filled in the gaps where needed.

The first edition is still available on Amazon and elsewhere, but the good news is that the second one has been expanded and much improved, courtesy of Schiffer Publishing in the States. Go to my INTRO page for more details.

Click HERE for a review. Or to hear me talking about why I thought it was such a great idea click HERE. On the right below is the Winter 2014/15 issue of Illustrators magazine which carried an article I wrote about Big O and the book. Click on it for the article.



FEBRUARY 2018 SAW THE LAUNCH of a third edition of The Dragon Tarot with the most wonderful illustrations by Linda and Roger Garland showing dragons in all their splendour and variety. This pack was a real labour of love at the time, so it is a serious pleasure to see it back in action again. Click on the cover left for more about it.

Thanks to a fierce deadline it was also a labour of blood, sweat and tears, particularly for Roger who produced the bulk of the illustrations at their studio/gallery at Lezant near Launceston in Cornwall. Cruelly Roger died of motor neurone disease in October 2017. Click HERE for a well-deserved tribute to him on the Tolkien Society website.

THE FALLEN ANGEL ORACLE was first published in March 2011 and again in 2020. It happily gave a chance to pick up from a book on angels I had written about ten years before, along with other strands of interest. Many thanks to Cindy Richards of Cico Books in London who offered the chance to write it, and Sarah Perkins for the atmospheric illustrations.

It is a pack of beautifully illustrated oracle cards calling on fallen angels who are on the side of neither God nor the Devil in the current ideological wars. They are interested, disembodied and often demonized spirits who sympathise with all sides of the biblical religions and are shared by all their Books. The angels' co-operation in creating the cards was really quite extraordinary. Try them and see for yourself.


I WAITED ABOUT THIRTY YEARS for the chance to write Faeries of the Celtic Lands. It traces the origins of the Celtic beliefs about faeries back to the misty days of their first arrival in Ireland, apparently descending from the sky in flying ships and landing on the mountain tops amid a great cloud that shrouded the land for three days. According to legend they then ruled the country as gods for an age before being forced to retreat into a parallel world, or sail away westwards across the ocean like Tolkien's elves.

I did hope to have the John Duncan (1866-1945) tapestry at the top of this page for the cover, but getting permission proved too complicated. And as it happens the actual cover captures the feel of the book very well in a quite different way. I only came across Duncan's art while working on Faeries. He was one of the most influential Scottish painters of the late 19th century Celtic Revival movement.

The book was published in the autumn of 2007 and at 224 pages is a fair bit longer than most I've done, in proportion to my interest in the topic, though without anywhere near exhausting it. The aim of the book is to give a kind of overview of the subject for those who are curious and even quite well informed about Celtic mythology, but daunted by its abundance and seeming chaos. Also to examine how the basically pagan ideas in the faerie faith nevertheless managed to survive and prosper alongside Christianity right up to about a century ago when other forces undermined the solid belief in faeries in the Celtic countryside. Click on the cover for some sample pages.

For an interview about the book click HERE.


BY WAY OF CONTRAST, the follow-up for autumn 2008 was the book on vampires you see on the left. It wasn't quite as long in gestation as Faeries but I wrote it on and off for about a dozen years and it was wonderful to see it in print at last, with original black and white drawings by Bruce Pennington plus a pile of classic illustrations that I picked up along the way. In person Pennington is the most mild and optimistic person, but he just happens to have a wonderfully gothic imagination and is at his best when depicting demons and disasters. To see a selection of his work, including illustrations from this book, visit his website HERE. To view some sample pages from the book, click on the cover.

For online reviews click HERE.
For an interview about the book click HERE (scroll down the page).

Werewolves cover

The idea for doing the vampire book first came from being asked to write an introduction for a reprint by Senate Books of Sabine Baring-Gould's classic 1865 Book of Werewolves.

Wampiry cover

I was taken by his curiously healthy angle on a seriously morbid topic. There was something so refreshingly wholesome about it that I wondered if something similar could be done with vampires. So that is what I set about doing. Halfway through, my original publishers went out of business so the project was shelved till another offer came along years later. Luckily all the text needed by then was a little final polishing.

Curiously, many of the sources I delved into were the same as those I used elsewhere for a book about angels.

In 2012 the book was published in Polish by Bellona Books of Warsaw. It's also available in the UK through Amazon. As with the original edition the original illustrations are by Bruce Pennington along with a range of stock images.

THEN BELOW WE HAVE A LITTLE HALLOWEEN TRILOGY that came out in 2006. Each book is just 96 pages long and about the size of a standard paperback but beautifully presented with a hardback and dust cover. The idea of the format is to present the facts in juicy little bites, so to speak. The Vampires volume is a kind of taster for the much larger book above and there is inevitably some overlap, but I tried to avoid repetition so this should not spoil your appetite for the larger book and it contains many additional titbits. It was fun to have a look at werewolves and witches as well.

These three books (plus some others) are available fom Amazon. Click HERE and scroll down the page if necessary. As a bonus I got to do another little book about unicorns, which links in a nice circular way with the first book in the next section below.

Click for sample spreads Click for sample spreads Click for sample spreads Unicorns cover

Click on the covers above for more, or on the link below for some Unicorn reviews



Photo courtesy of Marylin Myers

BELOW ARE SOME EARLIER and more fully illustrated volumes in which I usually worked in tandem with the artists. Most were illustrated by Wayne Anderson, two by Linda and Roger Garland and one by Bob Eggleton. Visit the Fantasy Art shelves for more of their pictures as they are all artists I first interviewed for collections of their work.

Click on the covers below for more about each title. Granny's Grimoire was never published, sadly, but you can see a rough draft of it here.

Feel free to EMAIL if you have any comments.

Go to Book of the Unicorn Go to She: The Book of the Goddess Go to Book of Sea Monsters Go to Leprechaun Companion
Go to Year of the Dragon Go to Gnomes and Gardens Go to Angel Companion Go to Year of the Horse
Go to Year of the Goat Go to Year of the Monkey Go to GRANNY'S GRIMOIRE CLICK FOR MORE

Chuang-Tzu once dreamed he was a butterfly.
When he awoke, he no longer knew if he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man,
or a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly . . .