Tag Archives: paranormal

Sexy paranormal creatures

If you read folklore or fairy tales, you will find that the paranormal creatures are more dangerous than they are sexy. If they seem sexy, it’s just as bait to lure you in so they can eat you. Mermaids, sirens, alluring maidens sat near ponds – they’re just hungry. Vampires, werewolves and zombies used to be grim, grotesque and horrifying. What happened? Somewhere in the 20th century, the dangerous supernatural creatures of our folklore turned into objects of desire.

For me, those paranormal creatures have always suggested the wild and the wilderness. They may be the un-tame hazard inside us all. They are the things we find monstrous about ourselves as well as the things we fear in the dark, in the woods and in the wilderness. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that sexy paranormal stories come at a time when we’ve pushed wildness to the margins. With deforestation, everything mapped, and wild places exploited for profit, where is there left for paranormal creatures to haunt your imagination? And so, just as the wild places are commodified and exploited, so the paranormal creatures become sex objects.

There may be social aspects too. We’ve broken down a lot of taboos around the world about who can love whom. There’s still a lot of work to do. It’s no longer comfortable to present people of a different ethnic background to your own as the exotic, desirable mystery. Romance depends on the beloved being difficult to obtain. As the barriers to human love come down, keeping the story shape alive calls for new challenges. The paranormal creatures slot neatly into our desires for certain story shapes.

As we become more alert to gender politics, the bad boy archetype of many a romance novel becomes less attractive. Women writers may be less keen now to sell us the aristocratic male with issues of authority and entitlement. He’s a bit old fashioned. Werewolves on the other hand have much better excuses for anger management issues, and are the ultimate bad boy you might want to tame.

For me, there’s a process here that goes along with a lot of other human processes. We see everything as existing for our use, benefit and amusement. We no longer imagine anything is more powerful than we are. The monsters of our old stories can’t continue as monsters any more. We turn them into sex toys. If I thought this was a case of replacing violence with love, I’d be a good deal more comfortable. To me, it seems like yet another expression of how we like to knock mystery and hazard out of the world in order to better own it, tame it and contain it.


Short reviews for magic-laden fiction

The Naked Witch

This is a charming witch lit novel. The main character – Lizzie – is a single mum to a teenage daughter and a practicing witch. As the book opens, she’s dealing with a relatively new job, and may have some romance entering her life – so far so chick-lit. What follows is a modern set story with all the plot twists and power games of a gothic novel! I had no idea where it was going – a quality I greatly appreciate in a book. It’s not the magic the provides the drive for the strangeness, either. Magic is what Lizzie does to cope, stay sane and hold on to a sense of self. Communing with nature and performing rituals are part of her life, but there’s no impossibly magical solutions to life problems here. She’s a very plausible actual Pagan dealing with some bat shit crazy real life issues. I rather liked that as a mix. It was a very entertaining read, and quite the page turner with a lot to say about relationships between people.

More here – https://wendysteele.com/wendy-woo-witch-lit/

 

 

The Axe, the Elf and the Werewolf – volume 1

I’ve read a fair bit of paranormal and urban fantasy, and all too often what it does is to disenchant. In worlds where faeries show up at the office and your best friend is a werewolf, it’s all too easy to wind up with something a bit banal, and to lose the magic. Alexa Duir has written a book full of paranormal beings in the mundane world, and it is truly magical writing. It no doubt helps that Alexa has a deep understanding of myths and folklore. Bringing heathenry into werewolf culture is genius and works incredibly well. Magical characters hold onto enough mystery to stay magical, even though the story takes us into a murder mystery, and a world of arcane bureaucracy and politics. There were times, I admit, when I wondered if some of it was a metaphor for The Pagan Federation… A really entertaining read, I had trouble putting it down.

Buy the book here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Axe-Elf-Werewolf-Wyrdwolf/dp/1477612653

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirror Dead

This is an unusual ghost story to say the least. It involves ghostly siblings who haunt the bodies of their surviving twins. The central ghost – Gray – is very much your hungry ghost. He’s entirely toxic and seems determined to ruin his host’s life. Host Simon is a mess, living on painkillers, alcohol, weed and Valium,  full of grief, pain and fear caused by his history with Gray. Of course there are times when you wonder if it is all Simon, and if all the voices in his head are entirely his own. However, as Simon struggles with life and flirts with death, another narrative line unfolds with a set of potential rescuers who might turn out to be more problematic than the ghost himself. This an intense story, dark, violent and yet often funny in a twisted sort of way. The author has a brilliant way with words, with lots of neat and insightful turns of phrase that made me chuckle as I went along. The story is utterly engaging. The characters are flawed, failing, sometimes terrible, but aside from Gray are never completely irretrievable or preposterously grotesque. It’s a story that demonstrates the scope for human compassion and warmth even in situations of utter shit and misery. There’s hope here, but nothing so straightforward as redemption. A great piece of paranormal writing that will keep you guessing right up to the end. Highly recommended.

Buy the book here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mirror-Dead-Magda-McQueen-ebook/dp/B0759N81TK