Tuesday, 17 January 2012

10 Things about Myth(ology) Trends

I'm sure you've noticed the recent (well, not that recent anymore) trend towards myth- or mythology-based stories, particularly in the YA-sector of the market. I don't mean myth-based stories in a Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces ) way either, but stories that acually refer to existing myths and/or use existing mythological creatures.
  1. The first move in this direction that I noticed was the use of Greek mythologyPercy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, to name one extremely popular example. I didn't really like the books all that much (although I did read them all), but I did like that, all of a sudden, kids were interested in greek mythology again, if in a superficial kind of way. As with Harry Potter, anything that gets kids to read is a good thing. 
  2. There's many, many different sets of mythology (or religion, if you prefer to call it that). Pretty much everything humanity could imagine, in fact. The most popular ones are indubitably the Greek and Roman pantheons, followed by the Egyptian and Norse beliefs. 
  3. Japanese/chinese mythology is very popular, too, though (for now) mostly in the manga market. Or do you know of a (YA) novel inspired by/using this set of beliefs?
  4. Norse mythology appears to be the current favourite, or at least the "new thing". I've come across a few romance novels and the odd YA using Odin and company. My favourite example: Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout.
  5. What I like to call "Christian Mythology" - angels and demons, that is - are everywhere right now, in all kinds of incarnations. I find it particularly interesting that in the newer stories "angel" does not carry the traditional, halo-holy meaning. Nope, there's angel bad guys around, my dearies! Isn't life fascinating? Current favourite: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and The Fallen 1: The Fallen and Leviathan by Thomas E. Sniegoski (there's a cool TV-movie trilogy based on the latter, too)
  6. As far as demons are concerned, everybody loves a bad boy, right? And who could be badder than a demon? And what greater joy than to reform him and make him yours? Countless romance and urban fantasy novels live off this particular concept, so I'm not going bother you with a list. Do you have any favourite demon-centered novels?
  7. Folk mythology plays a great part in many novels (predominately fantasy and urban fantasy). I say folk mythology, but this term is one of my making. What I mean are vampires, werewolves and company. Come on, they're everywhere! And what are they, if not mythological creatures? There seems to be no clear origin, country/culture-wise - or perhaps many origins - for these "alternative people". The most popular is probably the transsylvanian vampire (thank you, Bram). I'm not sure what the equivalent "base tale" for werewolves would be - I know of some russian folk tales where wolves turn into men, and then there's that beast that haunted France in medieval times. My favourite take on werewolves as of this moment would have to be Maggie Stiefvater's  Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls); for the vampires, I'll admit to being a Jean Claude girl (Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter) by Laurell K Hamilton). Sorry. Though...Anne Rice got me started on vampires, so The Vampire Lestat (Vampire Chronicles) definately deserves an honorable mention. 
  8. Veeeeeery popular these past few years: Faeries. Faeries are sometimes the same as Sidhe, sometimes not. They take many forms and are invariably rooted in celtic/gaelic mythology. The possibilities here are pretty much endless, because the fae have many, many forms even in the original mythology. I particularly like Julie Kagawa's  The Iron Daughter  (Part 1 of the Iron Fey Series) and Richelle Mead's Dark Swan Series.
  9. Faerie Tales, in the non-celtic sense. Who doesn't love a good Cinderella story? Faerie Tale - Grimm or otherwise - retellings seem to be quite the rage right now. Or how about The Day After the Faery Tale-type stories...like what happened after Cinder married her prince? Or once Sleeping Beauty was finally awake? And what happens when Snow White discovers the Mirror and gets curious as to its' powers? (btw, have you heard of the new Snow White movie coming out? Other than the fact that Snow White is Bella, it looks like it might be quite good...) Example of a faerie tale out now: Cinders by Michelle Davidson Argyle.
  10. The Next Big Thing: uhm yea. Did you really expect me to tell you? Do YOU know? If so, share with us, please. What I don't think it is, though: werewolves, vampires or faeries, unless someone thinks up a totally new twist on the theme (think Maggie Stiefvater for new twists on classic themes). I kinda have my doubts about angels, too. 
Can you think of another set of beliefs/legends/another pantheon that's popular right now in fiction (YA or otherwise)? Do you use mythology in your story? If yes, what kind?

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