Mythic Fiction Horror

What is the Mythic Fiction Horror Subgenre?

To understand mythic fiction horror, the reader must first be familiar with mythic fiction. Mythic fiction is any modern story that has its roots in legend, mythology, or folklore. Often, mythic fiction will either be inspired by or contain elements of a particular myth or legend, similar to fairytale horror. Mythic fiction, itself, is often compared to urban fantasy or dark fantasy because these subgenres share common fantastical elements. Additionally, mythic fiction often, though not always, takes place in a contemporary setting.

One rule of mythic fiction that distinguishes it from fantasy is that the work will always take place in the human world as opposed to fantastical realm. In this way, mythic fiction could also be compared to magic realism. Mythic fiction horror contains all of the elements and tropes of mythic fiction, with one obvious difference. Mythic fiction horror uses these elements to disturb and terrify. This subgenre is the dark side to mythic fiction's light fantastic. Elements used will often reflect the darker elements and themes found in various myths and legends. Regardless of its darker nature, mythic fiction horror, and mythic fiction in general, will often be conscious of the well-worn territory that the subgenre explores. Scares will be minimal to moderate for those who are familiar with the folklore or mythology represented in the work.

Mythic Fiction Horror Characteristics

Level of Plot: Plot level varies in this subgenre depending on how closely the work aligns with its source material.Some types of mythic fiction horror draw elements from myths and legends, while others are retellings of a particular myth or legend. Generally, however, plot levels will be low.


Level of Characterization: Characterization will be low to moderate in mythic fiction horror as the aim of the subgenre is to draw parallels to plots and characters in already familiar myths and legends.


Level of Supernatural: Using folklore and myth for source material means that a high level of supernatural will be found in this subgenre.


Level of Scary: Because mythic fiction horror consciously incorporates familiar myths and legends, the scares will be moderate to low for those familiar with the source material.


Level of Violence; Violence in mythic fiction horror is variable, depending on the level of violence in the source material.


Typical Setting: The typical setting of mythic fiction horror is the human world, often during modern times. Some works may be set in the past when a particular myth or legend has taken place.

Related Horror Subgenres

Dark fantasy and urban fantasy are related to mythic fiction horror because they share many of the same fantastical elements. Another easily related subgenre is fairytale horror, which, like mythic fiction horror, draws inspiration from folklore. Similarly, religious, satanic, Lovecraftian, and media tie-in horror, which all rely on drawing from some sort of source material can be related to mythic fiction horror. Because of some of the elements involved in the myths and legends used in the subgenre, supernatural and creature horror can also be related to mythic fiction horror. Finally, because of the feeling of well-established traditions that mythic fiction horror evokes, it can also be related to comic horror.

Don't Read Mythic Fiction Horror If You Dislike…

Myths and legends. If folklore and mythology do not appeal to you, this subgenre which uses this material as its basis is probably not for you.

The Selkie by David Bischoff and Charles Sheffield- Monsters of Celtic myth seduce and murder women in this erotic horror tale about a woman who has fallen under the selkie's spell, and her husband who must save her.


The Djinn by Graham Masterton- Harry Erskine, a skeptical psychic, investigates a mysterious death as a favor to his godmother and finds himself facing off against a powerful mystical monster.


Draugr by Arthur Slade- Three children discover the chilling truth  behind the Norse myths that their grandfather has told them when he is dragged away one night by a monster.


Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout- Murdered MBA student, Kathy Castillo, is resurrected as a Valkyrie using a genome tracking project. Her mission is to prepare for the upcoming Ragnorak but as the world descends into violence, she goes rogue with the help of a forgotten Norse god.


Dark Lanterns by Zoe Drake- The yokai, or monsters, of Japanese folklore manifest in the lives of fifteen people in modern day Tokyo in this collection of short stories.


Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton- An ambassador from the Caliph of Baghdad is drafted by Vikings to help them fight and ancient evil in this retelling of Beowulf.


Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice- The origins of vampires are explored through the lens of Egyptian mythology in the third book of the Vampire Chronicles series.


The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers-  Magicians open a magical time travel gate in an attempt to summon the Egyptian god, Anubis, and destroy the British Empire. Though their attempt is unsuccessful, the gate is later discovered by a millionaire who uses it in an attempt to gain immortality.


The Nightwatch by Sean Stewart- Set in the same world as Stewart's Resurrection Man, angels, demons, gods and monsters were banished from the southside of Edmonton, Alberta. Emily's grandfather made a sacrifice to the powers of the north side to keep the south free of magic. Now, Emily is being asked to make the same sacrifice to protect her city.


Procession of the Dead by Darren Shan- Drawing on Incan mythology, Shan creates a unique and terrifying setting in this trilogy opener.

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