As we all know, Friday the 13th has long been considered a day of bad luck in Western Culture, making it the most feared day and date in history. While we all react differently to the day (some people even stay home and refuse to leave their homes), most of us can admit to having at least one or two superstitions. What you may not realize is that superstition is also prevalent in literature, and for today’s post, I thought it would be interesting to highlight a few authors/titles where superstition plays a role.
One such author is Joanne Harris- author of Chocolat, Coastliners and several other novels. Her novels have been described as adult fairy tales, and there is a thread of magic and supersition running through her books. In Chocolat, main character Vianne Rocher has a penchant for superstition. She keeps good luck charms hanging in the doorway of the chocolate shop, makes protective hand gestures if threatened, dances widdershins around a black cat that crosses her path and recites a chant, and constantly turns to her mother’s tarot cards. While the author herself does not believe in occult or magic, she was raised in a superstitious family, and just happens to live in a haunted house.
In The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, protagonist Penelope “Lo” Marin not only has OCD, but is ruled by a superstition about numbers. She also recites the phrase “tap tap tap bananas” every time she enters a room, and is inclined to intervals of three. Fellow Pubcrawler Julie Eshbaugh highly recommends this chilling YA read.
Although Friday the 13th is primarily a Western belief, Chinese culture is full of superstition, and in her Newbery Honor-winning novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon , author Grace Lin incorporates the lore of her childhood, such as the need of Chinese households to throw away dented chopsticks at the new year (because they chip away at the future), how red is a lucky colour (it scares away evil spirits), and various other superstitions and folklore. Starry River of the Sky, the first of two planned companion novels releases in October, and it too plays on Chinese Folklore and superstition.
These are just a few novels in which superstition plays an important role, but for as many cultures as there are in the world, there are equally as many legends/customs/superstitions that make their way into books. What are some of your favourite “Superstitious” reads?
Rachel Seigel is the Children’s/Young Adult Book Buyer at wholesaler S&B Books in Mississauga, Ontario. She also maintains a personal blog at http://readingtimbits.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter as @rachelnseigel.