The Unkindest Tide, by Seanan McGuire – This book deals with the Roane, the aquatic children of the Luidaeg who had been mostly killed off centuries earlier, their skins then being used to create Selkies. The sea-witch vows to revive the Roane by sealing the skins to current Selkies. Toby comes up with a solution that helps to settle the issues involved with this problem. Much of it takes place in the Duchy of Ships, a collection of boats around an island in the Pacific Ocean. It’s ruled by Amphitrite, a Merrow daughter of Titania who prefers to be called Captain Pete. I feel like not a whole lot happened in this story, but I still liked it and its expansion of the fairy mythos, and the Luidaeg is a well-written character. The accompanying novella, Hope Is Swift, focuses on Raj, Tybalt’s nephew and heir, and his relationships with others, including his girlfriend Helen. At one point, he gets hit by a car saving someone’s life, and ends up stuck in feline form at a vet’s office.
Cursed, by Marissa Meyer – The sequel to Gilded continues with its retelling of “Rumplestiltskin” in a world of German mythology. It begins with the pregnant Serilda still imprisoned in the Erlking’s castle, and about to be forcibly married to him. Over the course of the story, she learns that he’s planning on bringing his old wife, Perchta, back to life, and also capturing the gods in animal form so he can make a wish to escape into the human world. We learn more about Serilda’s history and her link to the god Wyrdith. Serilda does have to come up with Gild’s true name, but Gild himself doesn’t come into the story all that much. The mythology is definitely interesting, with the gods taking various forms. It did perhaps seem a bit padded, like the story didn’t necessarily need to be told over the course of two fairly long books, but I’m sure there were reasons for that.
Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, by Sabine Baring-Gould – I heard about this book from the Apocrypals podcast, and the name of the author seemed familiar. This was because his grandson William Stuart compiled The Annotated Mother Goose with his wife Ceil. He was also known as a Sherlock Holmes scholar. And apparently this edition, which I found for free online, was edited down quite a bit. Sabine was an Anglican priest who had similar proclivities and wrote a lot of books. This one gives an overview of several popular myths from medieval Christian Europe, many of which I’ve seen mentioned in other sources, like the Wandering Jew, Prester John, Pope Joan and her connection with the Antichrist, the Sleepers of Ephesus, William Tell, and the location of the Garden of Eden. There’s information on how these stories originated (or at least their earliest known versions) and changed over time. The location of Prester John’s kingdom moved as Europeans explored Asia and Africa more thoroughly. Baring-Gould traces the myth of the sleepers to Norse mythology, although it also ties into the same idea of people from Jesus’ time living extraordinarily long lives as the Wandering Jew, which the author doesn’t dismiss out of hand. There’s a brief mention of the Islamic version of the myth of the sleepers, and how it specifies that only nine specific animals would be admitted to Paradise. In the chapter on Tell, Baring-Gould references a few earlier Norwegian stories of a similar archery contest that predate Tell’s supposed lifetime. Another chapter discusses the Welsh Prince Llewellyn’s faithful hound Gellert, whose grave could be found in Snowdonia, and how there are many tales of faithful animals that fit the same general pattern. While he points out that many of these stories have allegorical origins, he also points out that this can be taken too far, citing a satirical work by Archbishop Whateley claiming that Napoleon was really just a mythical solar deity.It’s a pretty eclectic mix of myths, including a few that don’t fit the general theme quite as well. A chapter on humans with tails starts with a rumor the writer heard as a child that people from Cornwall have tails, and another one is just about coincidences with numbers. I’d say it’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in any of this kind of stuff, keeping in mind that Baring-Gould had his own biases.
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