I’ve been following the Folklore Thursday tag on Twitter for a while and it has only just now occurred to me that perhaps I should do some Folklore Thursday happenings on my blog. I am not sure how this managed to pass me by for so long but pass me by it did.
No longer! I am going to try for an interesting folkloric/fairy tale-esque post every week. It’ll give me more excuses to read folklore, so I am excited.
For my first foray into the world of Folklore Thursday, I am going to share some of my favourite retellings and books based heavily on folklore. Hoorah.
1. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
Oh my goodness. I am still not over this book. If you’ve been lurking in this corner of the internet for a while, you already know how much I love this book.
It tells the tale of Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless, and it is probably my favourite book. It is the book that made me interested in Russian/Slavic folklore and mythology (an interest which is very much bubbling at the moment). It is lyrical and beautiful and dark and painful, and I will never get over it. Ever.
I will always recommend this book, it is the first book I mention whenever someone needs something to read.
2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
If you’ve not heard of this book before: 1. How? 2. Look it up, look it up right now.
American Gods is fantastic. So fantastic that it will soon be a TV show. I am eager. I’m not sure whether I will actually be able to watch it from my little flat in the West Midlands but I am eager.
Unlike Deathless, American Gods does not just focus on one particular country’s mythology. It has everything, it even creates new things. New gods. New gods which make me want to squeeze them until they break. Ahem. Bit scary there, sorry about that. It’s a jaunt through many mythologies and comes highly recommended.
3. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
I discovered this book in college, I think. Someone had found it or been reading it and was outraged by the dark, dark story ‘The Snow-Child’. Of course, I had to read it for myself and then I had to buy the book.
Again, this collection draws from a lot of different places and isn’t just a collection of retellings of tales I was familiar with. My favourite stories are: ‘The Bloody Chamber’ from which the collection gets its name, which tackles the story of Bluebeard; and ‘The Erl-King’, a story featuring a figure from Danish and German folklore, who I’ve been interested in since discovering a wonderfully dark piece of Labyrinth fan fiction which uses the tale as its inspiration. If you like a bit of darkness, give both the Carter and the fan fiction a read.
4. Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
Of course, of course, there is another Valente book on here. How could there not be? She just has so many greats to choose from! This book is gorgeous, both in the writing and in the illustrations by Charlie Bowater. I have long loved her work and was so happy to discover that it would be paired with Valente’s writing.
Six-Gun Snow White is a Western take on, you guessed it, Snow white and it’s a take only Valente could think up. I adore it. It’s a quick read, I discovered it last year and I am pretty sure I devoured it in one sitting. It’s a wonderful twist on the tale and is just as very enjoyable experience all round. Plus, the hardback is beautiful.
5. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
I’ve mentioned this book briefly on the blog before. It’s lovely. Aimed at younger readers, it includes a number of different fairy tales as well as a few little things of its own. Definitely one I intend to read to any potential future children I might end up having.
My love for this book also comes from my experience of it. My copy is delightfully deformed. The book block has been put into the hardcover upside down and back to front. I wouldn’t have noticed if not for the fact that I like to look under the jacket. Much to my amusement, I found the embossed cover upside down on the back of the book. It just seemed to suit the novel so well that I couldn’t help but enjoy it.
6. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The most recent read of this list, The Bear and the Nightingale is another book based in Russian folklore. I will be posting a full review in the near future so won’t say too much here. I will say that as soon as I saw the cover of this book that I needed it. I didn’t even know what it was about at that point but I needed it. Just look at it, it’s beautiful.
It draws on folklore that I hadn’t yet discovered, which made me deliriously happy and has a wonderful way about it, which I will talk more about in my review.
I know a lot of people had been excitedly anticipating this book until its release on January 12th – it was worth it.
So there you have it. Six of my favourites. I’m always on the look out for more books of this ilk so please do tell me your favourites in the comments – recommend some books! All of the books! I may have a mighty TBR pile but there is always room for more.
Tune in next week (we hope) for a list of books I want to read, and the week after (we hope even more fiercely) for something that isn’t a list.
Have a lovely Thursday!