The fay stories I like are the stories where the fae are not just beautiful glittering laughing creature – they are that but they are also seducers of the worst kind. The kind that will lead you into your own death and you will go with a big smile on your face. And you will go willingly. Fay is probably a metaphor for the temptation of the fun, beautiful and frivolous.
But more interesting than the old fairy tale trope of the fay as a metaphor for giving into temptation, is in my opinion the stories where we get to see the world that the fay are living in from the inside. Quite often these are told by the changelings – the half-fay that live on the borderland between the magical other world, the summer lands, and the mundane world. These stories tend to be about intrigue and about creatures that just do not value human life at all. About a hidden society that make a French 1700s court seem like child’s’ play. But they are still about letting yourself go into the beautify with open eyes and being embraced and obliterated by it.
The kind of Farie stories that I like challenge our gut feeling that anything beautiful must be good and virtuous and that ugly things, the “monsters” must be horrible and evil. Sometimes the real monsters are the beautiful honey pot that lure os in and then eat us up, and we let them. At least the monsters are honest, they just want to eat your brain, not have you like it and worship while they devour your soul.
Unlike vampires and werewolf they are social creatures, creatures that want you to think that they are beautiful and amazing. Sometimes vampires are of course like that but it is also easier to see that the blood sucker who want to eat you is probably a monster, that the beautiful man who just want to dance with you all night, might hurt you to, without ever meaning to. Fay is also a wonderful way of exploring the darker part of human sexuality. Like vampires a part of the fascination is definitely also their immortality, they will not age and die. They will not grow old. They will forever be as gay and fun as the day you meet them. Their human lovers however will grow old and die. So there is an extra build in loose, hurt and sorrow in a fairy romance that a human-human romance does not have. It is the same kind of sorrow that the good Doctor Who stories build into the Doctor/companion relationships. Then the immortal loves a mortal they accept that they will outlive them. That they will grow apart. And unlike the vampire, the fay can not change the human into one of their own.
Ok I could go on. I love fairies and I love stories about fairies. I do not like the fluffy glittering good pixies, those are boring. But I do like the darker stories of the fair folk.
Edit: I have done a roundup post of fay stories that I recommend. There are some awesome stuff out there. Find it here