I love Slavic mythology! My interest with the mythology started when my husband and I started playing Thea the Awakening on Steam. It’s a 4X strategy and survival game set in a fantasy world built around Slavic mythology. Basically you are given control of a small village of people worshiping one of the fallen Slavic gods of the world. Your job is to restore your god’s power without dying. You learn all about the gods and goddesses of the mythology. It incorporates spirits and demons such as the leshy, vampire, and topielec.
Recently I’ve started reading novels featuring Slavic mythology. Here’s some suggested novels to read if you’re interested in it:
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
I have mixed feelings about Novik’s Uprooted. However, Novik did absolutely one thing right in this book – the setting. The Woods are atmospheric and creepy. Featured in this book are the leshy, spirit guardians of the forest. I seriously adored them. The main character is a spin on Baba Yaga, a supernatural being associated with forests. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the main character as I wanted to be, but I still appreciate it. Read my review of Uprooted here.
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
Many Slavic spirits may be found in this historical mythology book, including the topielec, bannik, and the domovoi. The spirits play an important role within the story, particularly to the main character. The story even includes two lesser know gods in the mythology. Read my review of The Bear and the Nightingale here.
Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century. Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.
This book is on my TBR list at the moment. But doesn’t the synopsis above sound just delicious? I’m interested to read about Koschei the Deathless and Stalinist house elves.