A Guide to Supernatural Creatures (YA Lit. Style)

This has been a long time coming. I know that. You know. Well okay, fine, maybe youdidn’tknow that but now you do. So, put forward your best foot (aka not the smelly one) and let’s look at some supernatural creatures often found in YA novels.

The Vampire

A human who, after being bitten, dies and then rises again as a member of the undead (not to be confused with Zombie). His inhuman status is reaffirmed by his need to drink blood to survive. Males of the species have been known to be attracted to girls like Bella Swan. Make of that what you will. Has been known to sparkle. Is sensitive about stakes and other pointy objects (not including his fangs). Is almost always sexy and young. A master stalker. Warning: Garlic does not work on him. Has a mostly hate thing going on with werewolves.

For more information, read Twilight.

The Werewolf

Changes into a furry creature during full moon. At least in most mythologies though exceptions have been known to occur. The ones of the lupine persuasion are known to howl at the moon in order to annoy people. Excessively possessive and prefer sleeping in a big puppy pile. Dislike vampires enough to want to eat them. May occasionally speak in your head and tell you that they are your mate. Do not be alarmed. Just call animal control.

For more information, read the Raised by Wolves series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

The Zombie

Undead human. Do not confuse with vampires. They eat brains but may drink blood as well. They may also eat other parts of the body. Do not make good boyfriends as they want to eat you. They may also smell like they are decaying. They usually are. If you see one, run. There’s no such thing as a good zombie.

For more information read Dearly Departed by  Lia Habel

The Angel

Winged creatures who may or may not be divine (depends on the mythology). Often have, ironically, God complexes. And stalkerish impulses. Are usually polarized about right and wrong. Do not believe in grey areas. Also includes the Nephilim (half-angel/half-human, the Watchers (aka fallen angels, do not touch). Are usually very beautiful. Glow brilliantly (sunshine unnecessary to induce glowing).

For more information read Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.

The Mermaid/Selkie/Siren

Sea-creatures. The Mermaid is half-human, half fish. May smell fishy. The Selkie is a seal who becomes human for a while. May smell fishy. The Siren is another manifestation of the mermaid. Known to have very beautiful voices which they use to kill men. May smell fishy. Try not to throw a bait to one if you see any of these creatures. They are not known for their sense of humour.

For more information read The Keeper by Franny Billingsley.

The Fairy

Likes woods. Also known as fae/sidhe/etc. Includes elves, goblins, brownies, sprites and other various woodland creatures you will find in The Middle Earth. Haughty beings. Inflated egos. Eat leaves and nuts and sometimes human souls to keep things interesting.

For more information read The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa.

The Unicorn

Not as harmless as portrayed. Can be murderous. Dangerous for vampires (the pointy horn). If you see one, stand really still and pretend you are a tree.

For more information read Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Demon

Evil. May smell like sulphur and brimstone due to the amount of time spent in hell. Also known as devil, hideous and celery. Fraternization is not encouraged because of the previously mentioned Evil. If you become mired in the clutches of one, try praying. If that doesn’t work, join the dark side.

For more information read Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Witches

Sensitive to fire and water. Prone to dancing naked in the moonlight. Love cats and pointy hats that are, unfortunately, not a danger to vampires. No longer ride broomsticks as that mode of travel is no longer insured.

For more information read Hollow Pike by James Dawson

Between the Sky and the Sea – Jaclyn Dolamore

Hardcover, 229 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Source: Net Galley

Synopsis:

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren–the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn’t seen since childhood–a dashing young man named Alander, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alander band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

Review

Between the Sea and the Sky offers readers a chance to witness the unfurling love story between a mermaid and a winged creature. The premise is fascinating. The question of how these two beings of different species work over their significant differences to fall in love and fight for a chance for a happily ever after is an engaging one. Wow, that was a long sentence. Sadly though, the entire book feels like it’s waiting for things to get better. Even the ending. The potential is there – it just is never fulfilled.

In fact, the entire book feels anticlimactic.

Esmerine is a promising character but she just doesn’t develop. Alander remains stodgy and I have less than fond thoughts of Dosinia. Esmerine’s sister, Dosinia disappears so Esmerine, with Alander’s help, goes on a quest to find her. The way the tension builds up in the novel, I expected Dosinia to have been kidnapped or something more villainous. Only, it turns out that Dosinia willingly left her family to be with a human man. She’s portrayed as a sympathetic character and then you find out that she’s really not someone you can like. What kind of a person leaves their family to worry and leaves without informing the people who purportedly hold a lot of meaning to her?

Also, the book kept on reiterating that once a siren has been captured in the human bond of marriage, there is no way out for her.

My question is, why? If she has been “captured” why can’t she steal her belt back and make a run for it? Why does the human concept of marriage hold any meaning to a mermaid who has a different value system and as such different ideas about marriage?
I wanted to like this book, I really did. It just didn’t do anything for me. There is no real conflict, no overarching arc that tells a story, that makes a person tense with anticipation, nothing learned, nothing gained just a seemingly flat rendering of what might have made a better short story than a novel length one. If Dolamore had focused a bit more on the differences between the winged creatures and mermaids, delved into how difficult it would be to make their relationship work, I think the book would have offered more in the way of substance. As it is, it didn’t appeal to me as much as Dolamore’s Magic Under Glass did. But as I always say, make up your own mind.