Playing with tradition lore

A lot of writers in the (urban) fantasy genre use forms of traditional supernatural elements, like the vampire and the fae, people or beings from folk tales, myths and sagas, and sometimes even from influential writers of the past. Generally, they give it a bit of a twist. Sometimes that twist is minimal, sometimes it is so drastic that it’s barely a reference.

One of the things I find myself very enthusiastic about, and one of the things I thoroughly enjoy, is seeing the different incarnations of lore-twisting. How an author re-invents vampires, werewolves and other were-beasts, witches and fae. How they make the lore their own, pick, choose and reimagine to suit their story-world. Especially when they manage to do it in such a way that it reinforces the story they’re trying to tell.

One of the books I have recently read that did this right was the All Saints trilogy by Deborah Harkness, of which the first book is A Discovery of witches.

Press more to read on, but be warned, it contains potential spoilers


In this trilogy, the theme of an alchemical wedding, a joining of opposites, and adaptation in order to survive, are essential themes. Vampires, witches and deamons(which appear to be a sort of especially and particularly gifted human) form the central supernatural population in the book. She altered a subset of the vampires and a subset of the witches in such a way that, while they are opposites, they are genetically compatible. A relationship between witch and vampire, the alchemical wedding, the union of alchemy, magic and science are all strong themes in the novels, reinforcing each other.

There are many other tales doing similar things, and every time I encounter a new adaptation it leaves me enthusiastic and inspired.

What is your favorite adaptation of tradition supernatural lore?

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