The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures Review

A couple of months ago, I started listening to an excellent podcast called Lore, in which Aaron Mahnke tells spooky stories from folklore around the world. Now Mahnke is coming out with an affiliated book called The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures, which hits stores tomorrow, October 10. This beautifully illustrated book collects a variety of folklore stories with a focus on particular types of monstrous creatures. It’s the first in a World of Lore series, and Mahnke plans to follow it up with two more books on Wicked Mortals and Dreadful Places within the next year. Continue reading The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures Review

Dark Tales of Native American Folklore

Thanksgiving is just around the corner for me and my fellow American readers, and with this holiday usually comes cartoonish depictions of Native Americans feasting beside pilgrims at a banquet celebrating their friendship. But though most Americans will spend this time of year stuffing themselves with turkey and cranberry sauce, probably few could name the specific tribe the Pilgrims encountered, let alone anything about their culture.

"The Friendly Skeleton" Painting by Richard Hook (First People website. Copyright Richard Hook)
“The Friendly Skeleton” Painting by Richard Hook (First People website. Copyright Richard Hook)

It’s important to remember that North America was inhabited by a variety of different peoples, each with their own rich culture and history long before the first European settlers arrived, though since that time they have faced discrimination and erasure. We also need to acknowledge that the stories and voices of these people are often left out not only from our history books, but also from our studies of literature. Oral story-telling has played a significant role in many of the cultures indigenous to America, and the folktales and legends passed down from generation to generation are part of a wide body of literature belonging to this underrepresented group. One of the things I hope to do with this blog is discuss the Gothic in wider terms than merely the most popular themes and works from the Western European tradition. A while back, I discussed some of the dark myths and monsters of the Jewish tradition. This week, I want to highlight some of the legends and tales from Native American folklore that I find most fascinating. Continue reading Dark Tales of Native American Folklore

Dark Tales of Jewish Folklore

Shana tova! to those of you celebrating the Jewish new year this past week. In case you don’t know, we’re currently in the midst of one of the most important times of the year for Jews. The days between the start of the new year (which began last Sunday night) and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (this Wednesday), are typically used as a period for deep reflection and introspection. In honor of this holiday, I decided to use this opportunity to reflect on some of the more gothic elements of Jewish folklore and tradition. Much of the monsters and boogeymen typically found in gothic fiction derive from a mostly Christian tradition, but Judaism has a rich array of creepy creatures, as well, that deserve their own turn in the spotlight. Continue reading Dark Tales of Jewish Folklore