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5 Dark Folklore Reimaginings After You See The Curse of La Llorona

by  | May 10

Produced by James Wan, who is slowly building a small horror empire with his The Conjuring and spin-off Annabelle series, The Curse of La Llorona is sure to pack plenty of solid scares. This new entry in the Wan horror-verse takes a stab at one of the scariest tales from Mexican folklore and thrusts it into 1970s Los Angeles. La Llorona, or the Weeping Woman, is the tale of a woman who, after finding her husband with a new wife, drowns her children in a river, but instantly regrets her actions, and kills herself as well. Now she roams the afterlife looking for lost children to claim as her own. If you hear her crying, well, then, it’s already too late. Sometimes she is a vengeful spirit, sometimes she is a warning of misfortune: as all folklore goes, it is up for interpretation. Here are five of my favorite novels that feature folklore and mythologies, often giving them a new twist, but central to each story are entities, legends, and myths that have lasted the test of time.

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone

by Kat Howard

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone is a stunning collection of short stories that examines multiple kinds of mythology, from the religious to classic Arthurian legend. The central story, “Once, Future,” examines the myth of King Arthur in the context of a college writing-class experiment. As the students are assigned characters from the legend, from Arthur to Morgan le Fay, they realize that their own fates and those of the characters may be weaving together, forcing themselves into paths they didn’t expect and facing obstacles they never saw coming. With fifteen additional stories featuring unicorns, saints, curses, and oodles of magic, these tales will transport you, challenge you, and bring a little more magic into your reality.

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The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood

by Melissa Albert

In this haunting debut, Melissa Albert examines the darkness within fairy tales and the frightening consequences that occur when that darkness seeps into the real world. The novel follows Alice, along with her friend Ellery Finch, as they set out to find Alice’s lost mother. As Alice realizes that the dark and disturbed fairy tales written by her estranged grandmother may not be entirely fictional, she must fight to save herself and those she loves. Drawing inspiration from the dark fairy tales of the past, such as those of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, this modern adventure puts a spin on the classic tales, looking at them from a perspective that subverts genre clichés to create something entirely new.

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

by Brigid Kemmerer

In this vivid and imaginative retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” A Curse So Dark and Lonely has just about everything to love about fantasy. It features an unstoppable heroine, Harper, who finds herself sucked into a new realm from her home in Washington DC. Entering Emberfall, Harper encounters a powerful villainess, a cursed and hopeless Prince Rhen, and a land struggling to survive beneath the curses’ shadow. Although suffering from a leg injury from cerebral palsy, Harper completely dominates the narrative, radiating wit and power. This novel offers a shockingly new perspective on the traditional YA mythical fable, creating a world with vibrant characters, fresh storytelling, and a compelling narrative that ruminates on modern themes.

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The Cold Is in Her Bones

The Cold Is in Her Bones

by Peternelle van Arsdale

Well, besides sporting my favorite cover of 2019 so far, The Cold in Her Bones is a dark, feminist retelling of the Medusa myth that we all didn’t know we needed. It follows teenage Milla, who lives a secluded life with her family until her world is upended at the arrival of an older couple and their granddaughter from the local village. Finally feeling that she may have found a friend, Milla instead encounters a village curse that threatens to rip the two girls apart. Woven with the Greek mythology of Medusa, this YA novel approaches themes of identity, agency, and power with such a rich and compelling narrative, that you won’t be able to wrench yourself away. A haunting and eerie tale that thrusts the ancient myth into topical and relevant context, this is one of the most beautiful and chilling fantasies of the year.

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The Gospel of Loki

The Gospel of Loki

by Joanne M. Harris

We all love a good Tom Hiddleston as Loki, but the real mythology surrounding the Norse god is just as fascinating as its Marvel reimagining. Chronicling the rise and fall of the Norse gods from the fresh perspective of the always scheming Loki, this novel by Joanne Harris brings Asgard and all who inhabit it to life with such energy that you’ll never want to leave it. Using the already rich stories of Norse mythology and making them utterly her own Harris has created in The Gospel of Loki (and its adventure-fueled sequel, The Testament of Loki) a must read for anyone who craves an un-put-downable story with characters we already know and love.

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Amy is a Legal Contracts Assistant at Simon & Schuster. She loves thrillers, contemporary fiction, and all things Stephen King! If she isn’t talking about her obsession with true crime podcasts like Last Podcast on the Left she is gabbing on about any and all things film. She loves reading in her favorite NYC bars, which you can see on her bookstagram, @boozehoundbookclub