Have you ever noticed how some fantasy characters (from heroic fantasy to horror fantasy) look eerily similar whereas they are never considered alike? When I look at the description of an Elf, a Vampire or a Faerie/Fairy, I read tall, light, eternal, strong/dangerous, beautiful characters. For me, they are the same characters. Not because I can't make a difference between fangs and wings (because, quite surprisingly, I can), but because their origin is for me the same. Beauty, Strength, Longevity, ... are all an ideal for the Western culture (maybe also for others, but I wouldn't want to presume). Some variations exist of course between characters (especially between Vampires on one side and Elves and Fairies on the other, those last two sharing many a similarity), and some variations even exist for the same species depending on the writers and the mythology they've created.
Courtesy of this blog.
And I am actually writing all these insipid things for a reason !
I started writing an article on the Soul Screamers series written by Rachel Vincent when I received from my beloved Amazon the two last published books written by Maggie Stiefvater (the author of Shiver on which I made an article and who became one of my favorite fantasy writers), and it turns out they are using the same Irish myth of the Sidhe in those two series. Obviously, the books couldn't be more different in characters, style or use of the mythology, but I thought I should write a common article nonetheless.
The figure of the Sidhe is close to the likes of Fairies and Elves, being a powerful, and obviously supernatural, species. They are known to live either in an invisible parallel world (mythology used by Rachel Vincent) or underground in fairy mounds (mythology which inspired Maggie Stiefvater though it remains mysterious as to where they live exactly).
Many interpretations exist to explain the very existence of the Sidhe, they can be seen as gods/godesses, spirits of the nature or ancestors. Vincent and Stiefvater don't specify exactly what they are (between spirits of the nature and gods).
(Oh! Spoiler Alert by the way!)
In Rachel Vincent's books, the main character Kaylee Cavanaugh is an actual Sidhe. And more particularly a Bean Sidhe (or Banshee) who is a female spirit seen as an Omen of Death. She screams (not the "I've just met Miley Cyrus" scream, but more the "I'm screaming and screeching and making noises I never thought a human body could ever make" scream) when people are about to die, hence the Omen of Death. From there on, Kaylee discovers who she truly is in the first book, My Soul to Take, and ensue many an adventure with Rippers (real ones, seriously) and other creatures of the Netherworld (because that's what it's called) in the second book, My Soul to Save.
In Maggie Stiefvater's books on the other hand, one of her main character is a Sidhe or a supernatural being and the other is a human which has something irresistible to Sidhes. Even though the story and the characters are the same, Stiefvater changes focus between her books: the first one, Lament, centres around Deirdre (Dee) and Luke, the second one, Ballad, around James and Nuala. The Sidhes and Faeries (there are different types of Sidhes in the global population of Faeries) in Maggie Stiefvater's books are very dangerous creatures for the humans in general, and those having an ability which attracts Faeries in particular.
I personally liked both stories. The Rachel Vincent books centre around themes like frienship, romance, and the mythology is very interesting, especially when it comes to Rippers. The third book, My Soul to Keep, will be out on the 1st of June 2010.
Maggie Stiefvater is, as always, extremely funny (the second book of the series, Ballad, is hilarious!), she has an incredible way of writing and her mythology about Faeries is very cool and frightening!
Kiss me Deadly
Another reason why I am linking those two others is because in July 2010 (soooon!) an anthology of short stories on young paranormal romance will be published with a short story from both writers. It will be called Kiss me Deadly. For the line-up of authors, check out Maggie's blog.
FYI: As of June 2009, Rachel Vincent has put online the prequel of the Soul Screamers series, "My Soul to Lose", in the form of a free downloadable ebook. This is how I got hooked up: I found her name in Amazon's "Customers who bought this item [Charlaine Harris] also bought" and went to check out her website and read the prequel, which I loved. So don't hesitate if you just want to check out the story without buying the book.