January 25, 2014

A Fairy Tale Mystery: Can Anyone Help? Updated!

Editor's note: Hi Everyone. Mary Barnett wrote me asking if I knew anything about the fairy tale she describes below. Any ideas? Let's see if we can crowd-source this thing for her! Update: Answered already! See comments.

Mary's message

"I'm hoping you can help me remember a story title here.  I'm not sure if I remember the synopsis correctly, as it was very long ago and I was a little girl when I read the story.  I'm looking to add this back to my collection of fairy tales if at all possible.
Many years ago I remember reading a fairy tale that involved a castle that had disappeared, leaving only a gaping hole in the ground. The story was that it could come back to its former glory. and that music was the key. 

Musicians from far and wide tried to make it reappear with their music, to no avail. And then one day, a musician was joined by another (and another? I don't recall) , and they created harmony.... and the castle rose up in splendor.

Does this sound familiar to you? And idea what it was called or the author's name? Of all the books I yet retain from my childhood, the anthology in which I read that is not among them, nor do any of my siblings have the book. Any help will be appreciated."

Here's some eye candy to inspire you all. I bought it from the Etsy store D&D's Digital Delights. Believe me, the images are worth buying and downloading. The catalog is incredible in its breadth and fabulousness.


  1. Hi Mary. The story you're thinking of is The Palace Made By Music (1910), by Raymond Macdonald Alden. A nice online version is available here.

    Fascinating, question. I read that story when I was a boy. It was in a strange old book of fairy tales we had around the house--from the 60s, I'd guess, judging by the illustrations I think it was meant as a reading textbook, but it sure had a strange lot of stories: as well as that one, it had "The Twelve Ravens"--complete with the little girl cutting off her finger--and James Thurber's Many Moons. A very odd book. I'm guessing that may be where you read it, too?

  2. Wow, John. That was amazingly fast and impressive--even for you!
    Thank you so much!

  3. Thank you very much for helping me in my search! Yes, indeed, that is the story, and I do believe it was the same anthology frome whence it came; I do remember the story of the Twelve Ravens and Thurber's Many Moons as well.

  4. I'm glad someone knew the answer because I drew a complete blank. :) But I will know where to go for help next time I have a fairy tale question -- the readers of EC!