Sunday 17 April 2011

Magic Retold

Forget the whimsy of Harry Potter and the Hollywood haircuts of the new Red Riding Hood movie, for to find more substantial reworkings of the concepts of myth, magic and/or fairy-tale, could do worse than check out the following six books ...

Philip Pullman : His Dark Materials

Quite possibly the darkest, deepest 'children's' book ever written. Encompassing alternate realities, witches, mad scientists, corporeal spirit-guides and the war in Heaven, plus more besides, His Dark Materials clearly draws inspiration from sources such as Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's Divine Comedy yet weaves them into an original, compelling masterpiece.

Neil Gaiman: American Gods

Upon his release from jail, a man named Shadow falls into the company of a strange individual called Wednesday. From that moment forward he is cast into an oddysey meets American road-trip, discovering along the way that ancient mythology is far from dead. Taking winter respite in a sleepy town, Shadow becomes embroiled in a novel within the novel. 

Susannah Clarke : Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

This is the tale of the renaissance of Magic in Georgian England and of the rivalry of the title characters, all under the auspicious influence of the legendary Raven King and a dark Libertine Faerie that dispells with all of the cutesy, new-age bawdification of the hidden people. Includes some beautiful scenes rich in invocative imagery, such as the magic that occurs within York Minster and how to deal with the advance of Napoleonic warships.

Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber

Retellings of familiar fairy tales,with a dark sexual edge, the Bloody Chamber modernises the old lore in a timeless manner and contains the tale ' Company of Wolves' a classic reworking of the tale of 'Little Red Riding Hood' which Carter worked with director Neil Jordan to produce the interweaving narrative of lycanthropy in the movie of the same name.


Jean Ray : Malpertuis

Upon his death bed, the strange old man Uncle Cassave bequeathes his estate upon the last of the part present within the houe of Malpertuis remaining alive, a strange tale of mythic proportions unfolds whereupon the young Jean Jaques discovers that his kith and kin and indeed himself are not what he currently thought.


Erika Mailman: The Witch's Trinity

Drawing upon grim reality as much as hallucinatory visions, The Witch's Trinity is a grim yet beautiful and compelling tale of the medieval witch-craze in Germany and how the influence of both harsh nature and weird supernature take their toll on humanity, community and family.

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