1: Extremely passionate conversation on a specific topic that is both intellectual and also shows a window into what she’s all about and what she cares about, and what upsets her about the world.
2: Smiling while kissing.
3: Good smells.
4: Lip biting.
5: Eye contact that not only communicates something more than just “I see you”, but really shows emotion and makes you feel like you are the only thing being seen in that moment, special, whatever you want to call it.
This is the seventh installment in a series of book recommendations, all of which will introduce you to kickass women from mythologies around the world, all of them written by women. All books listed had to pass the following criteria:
Be written by a woman
Have a woman as (one of) the protagonist(s)
Feature Russian or Slavic mythology
This recommendation list comes on the heels of the Asian mythology rec list, because I really wanted to include Russia (which falls under both Asian and Slavic mythology), but I wanted to keep the country as a whole in one post. @kostromas
(x) and @lamus-dworski (x) (x) were kind enough to take some time answering my questions.
While I mainly looked for books ft. Russian and Slavic mythologies (I used this Wiki file as a measure to determine the Slavic region), I also include a few books with other origins, such as Norway and various Eastern European countries, because I think - out of all the recommendation posts I have done and plan to do - this is the one they would fit best in.
Please note as well that there is a lot of overlap among most of these cultures, with different versions of a character appearing in many, so some of the below classifications may be rather arbitrary (I usually go with what’s 1) listed in the summary, then see if 2) the writer specifies a culture, or if 3) readers had helpful input).
UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention that this post could do with some clarification and additions. To start with, I’d like to address the small number of books listed under Slavic. I don’t mean to say that only the countries listed are Slavic countries. The list is as limited as it is because I found it difficult to locate books that met all the above listed criteria, and an unconscious fifth - that they be written in English. If you take out any one of those criteria, a larger pool of books would open itself up, and I encourage you to consider that as an option.
While I understand that limiting these lists to books written in or translated into English is not ideal, I also don’t think I am the right person to judge which books written in Slavic languages should be included, as I am not Slavic and don’t speak or read Slavic languages. Readers should be aware though, that reading a book featuring Slavic mythologies or cultures, which are not written by someone who identifies as Slavic, may promote a stereotypical or otherwise harmful depiction of those cultures.
Moreover, those authors who do hail from the relevant region are more likely to be published if they don’t push the envelope too much to be acceptable for a generic Western audience. Therefore, additional reading of books on and / or featuring Slavic mythologies or cultures can aid in understanding the context of these tales. I have listed a couple of books in the honourable mentions with that in mind, and I have decided to add an asterisk (*) to all works written by an author who is confirmed as hailing from the region their work is set in. Typically, I’ve listed one or two books per author, but do check for their other writing.
Finally, I should add that I might have made a mistake in including Russia in this list. This was done because I wanted to keep the country in one post, rather than splitting it between the Asian list and this one. The Asian one was sufficiently long I didn’t want to add it there, but I might have been better off creating a completely separate list for it rather than including it here.
With the above reasons in mind, I have decided to move the Slavic section up, I have added a number of entries throughout, and expanded the resources list at the bottom.
Long awaited, I know. Hope you enjoy the rest of the story! Also I just want to clarify the war Claire remembers in this chapter. It is a continuation of WW2, sort of. In this story, a war begins again after the twins are born and the war uses nuclear power.
“Where do you think she came from?”
“I have no idea, mo nighean ruadh.”
There was a long sigh before the voice began again.
“Her clothes are a
bit…queer and she looked at Willie so strangely, like she had seen him before.
It gave me a chill.”
There was a creek of the floor as someone moved to the other side of the room.
“And you’re sure ye have never seen her, perhaps at the castle when ye were a wee one?”
“No, Brian. I am
sure. Lord knows where she came from, but she’s been through a lot, poor thing.
We should look after her for now.”
“She’s English, leannain. Are you sure?”
The voices drifted
in and out of Claire’s ear like distant waves in the ocean. She could hear them, but could barley distinguish them from the roaring in her mind.
Time went by slowly in her mind. She fought to grasp
anything in the dark oblivion she was stuck in, groping for something familiar.
A flash of red danced behind her eyes and suddenly she remembered.
She sat up with a gasp
in the large bed, hands flung out on either side of her. She had seen her son!
“You’ll be knowin’
my husband, then?”
She jumped again when she heard the voice in the far left corner of the room and suddenly the dread
that had made her so sick in the first place came back. It hadn’t been her Brian
playing in his rightful home and it wasn’t Jamie sitting near her. It was Ellen Fraser currently sitting in the room, staring at her.
Jamie’s beloved mother. Jamie’s mother who would die
before she turned grey. One of the women she had named her daughter after. Another
pain stabbed at her heart as she thought of her other lost baby.
In any other circumstance, Claire would have been awed and amazed
at the chance to meet the famous Ellen. But seeing her meant that she hadn’t traveled to the
right time. Seeing her meant that her children were lost, just like her husband. Jamie.
“I…no,” she stuttered out, racking her brain for an
explanation. The aching pain from the crushing despair of not being with Jamie and her children made her voice rough and starchy with undeniable emotion in it.
Sweat formed all over Claire’s body and her heart pounded hard against her chest. She tried to take a few calming breaths to stop the panic.
Ellen’s head cocked to the side as she watched Claire fumble in bed, wringing the sheets between her hands and Claire suddenly
felt that if she lied, Ellen would see right through her. So, she simply decided to
tell the truth…with a few slight tweaks.
“I thought that your son was mine. His name is Brian and he looks a great deal like your own boy.”
Named after your husband, she said silently in her head. She thought it best not to mention it. Claire didn’t think
Jamie’s parents would accuse her of being a witch, but she wasn’t about to
take that risk.
“Have ye lost your son, then?” Ellen’s brows drew together in
concern and empathy as though she tried to imagine what it would be like to
lose her own son. “Is that why ye are here?”
Claire’s heart clenched at the though that she would know that
pain all too soon, but was she to warn her? What would happen if she did share her knowledge of her fate and the fate of Willie, who would die of small pox in but
a few years? Would she still have met Jamie? Would her children survive?
Clenching her eyes shut to block out Ellen’s face, she simply
nodded. “Yes, my son and my daughter. I’ve…I lost them both.” The pain once
more rippling across her body like a lash from a whip as she spoke.
Suddenly, she was surrounded by warmth, the smell of fire and
red hair. Ellen threw her arms around her and rocked her back and forth like a
child. The emotions of the past few days –hell the past few years – caught up
with her and the soft touch of a mother caused her to fall apart into Ellen’s warm arms.
“Shush, lass,” she whispered in her ear while brushing her hair away from her forehead. “Be still.”
The feeling of her red hair and the sound of comforting Gaelic
evoked a memory of a young man holding Claire on his lap while she fell apart after she fell through time. The man she had so desperately fought for and
failed to find.
The image of his face that flashed before her eyes made her sobs come harder. The face she had seen in her –their– children so often.
She remembered the time when she allowed herself to fully see it in her mind for the first time since their separation years ago.
With Japan and the United States going head to head in combat, the next thing that needs to be discussed is where the next atom bombs will be dropped…”
Frank sighed and punched the wall next to the radio in rage. Claire carefully reached out and turned the radio off before they both went mad.
“I thought these bloody wars had ended! Haven’t they taken enough of our lives! FUCK!”
Frank slammed the mantle with his fist, causing the photos of their family to wobble and shake.
“Please, you’ll wake the twins!” She spoke in a hushed yell, glancing up at the stairwell to make sure they hadn’t woken.
Frank’s hand immediately oozed with blood and his shoulders shook from repressed sobs.
Claire quietly walked over and laid a hand on his back lightly, feeling all the panic and despair she felt at the new war. The war to end all wars.
“They say that the next bombs will be dropped in the northeast,” his voice was raw and his fingers curled around the wood of the mantle. “It’s only a matter of time. We need to leave. Take the twins and go.”
A tear fell down her face as she thought of leaving their home. The home that just finally felt a little like home. “There isn’t anywhere safe, Frank. The war will follow us wherever we go.”
“But Canada is one of the only places that hasn’t been bombed yet, we could–”
“No,” she cut him off softly. He turned around to face her, face red and eyes glistening. She felt a pain in her heart that she couldn’t comfort him more, couldn’t be a wife to him, but that ship had sailed a long while ago. The only thing they could do now was be a comfort to each other.
“Canada will be involved as soon as next week. No one can sit this war out, not with atom bombs flying around.”
Frank reached out and grabbed onto her tightly, wrapping his arms around her middle so tight that she fought for breathe. She tentatively returned the embrace, remembering a time when that kind of enthusiasm from him would have made her giddy.
“I just…wanted better for them,” she couldn’t see his face but knew he was looking up at the stairs. “To not live in a time of such destruction.”
“I know,” she sighed, thinking of her children sleeping safe in their beds, as safe as they could be. Bomb sirens had been going off every day since last week, but nothing had come to the Boston area yet.
“Claire…there is one place safe,” Frank stepped back and looked down at his fingers, twisting his wedding band around, unable to look at her.
“Where could that…oh,” she blinked in shock at the suggestion.
The past. The stones.
She shook her head and went over to the window to gaze out at the dark street and pressed her forehead against the cool glass.
It was four years ago that she had fled the past because of its danger and the fall out from another war. Always another fucking war. Jamie had begged her to see their child safe, but now the past seemed like a fairytale compared to the hell the world was in now.
For the first time since she had left, Claire allowed herself to see Jamie in her mind. The mop of messy red hair, his lake-blue eyes, so tender as they looked at her. And for one brief, shining moment, she thought of her children meeting their real father.
But that couldn’t happen. He was dead.
A spasm of grief rushed through her and she shook her head hard and turned toward the stairs without a glance to Frank.
“No. I won’t take them there and I won’t discuss this again. Goodnight, Frank.”
She climbed the stairs as fast as she could, leaving the image of the stones and the highlands downstairs and in the past where they would always belong.
Instead, she crept into the room where her children were sleeping, blissfully unaware of the danger that was around them.
Brian slept on his back with his hands on his stomach and Ellena was on her side with both hands under her cheek.
Carefully, she reached out and placed a hand on Brian’s cheek, tracing his full cheek and pushing the memory of the man he looked so much like aside.
She walked over a few feet to her daughter’s bed to kiss her cheek and then walked to the door, gazing back at their still forms, cast in the nightlight.
“I promise I’ll keep you both safe. No matter what happens.”
The thought that she broke her promise made her cry even harder, hiccuping with the effort. She had failed her children. Ellen smoothed a hand down Claire’s hair and made a hushing sound.
“I dinna ken who ye are or why ye are here,” she said while
still keeping a close hold on her. “But I will help ye find your own bairns in
the best way I can.”
Her voice was warm like cinnamon and honey and her was skin soft like
cotton and it was the first time Claire had felt safe in a long while.
On one hand with a Betty/Jughead/Archie love triangle planned instead of the usual Betty vs. Veronica I am glad they’ve stopped trying to turn women against one another. On the other fucking hand I hate love triangles.
School dress codes in the U.S are insane and I’m sorry you can’t wear shorts and a tank top when it’s hot enough to cook bacon and eggs on the sidewalk because your male teachers and students weren’t taught self control.
This is to thank you for the memories, for the time we spent together and for being a part of my life, no matter how brief it may have been. Thank you for helping me grow into the woman I am today for I truly do believe if I had not met you, I would not be the person I am today. You helped me shape my character and for that I am ever thankful.
Thank you for showing me what a real man ought to look like for without your presence I have have settled for someone who never deserved me. I will admit that you left some big shoes to fill but it’s okay. There was never anything mediocre about you. You will forever be a part of my memory and you will forever be dear to my heart.
The one thing that shocks me the most is that you had the audacity to love me when I thought I was unlovable. You had the audacity to live me at a time when I thought nobody would ever love me and when I thought I did not deserve love. It was brief, but that was the first time in my life I felt as if someone loved me and I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel it again so I wanted to thank you for this. You have no idea how much it means to me; someone who always gives love… it changed my life to feel it for once in my life.
The biggest change that came about in my life because of you is my self confidence. I can not find the words to thank you. Before you, I looked in the mirror and saw nothing special. Then you came around and I learnt to see myself through your eyes and quite honestly, I always secretly feared that if we did not last and I lost you… that I would go back to seeing myself the way I did before. But even now that you’re gone.. I still see myself the way you saw me.
For this I will forever be thankful. I see attractive women all the time who are horrible! They have horrible personalities and they treat everyone else as if they are inferior because of the way they look. I am thankful that you ensured I never turned into one of those women. I am thankful that you kept me kind and loving and humble.
Thank you for showing me what it was like to respect someone. You’re probably the only person who knows how hard it is to earn my respect and to keep it even. You are one of the rare few who has both earned my respect and kept it all along.
I think you taught me how to unselfishly love someone. How to love without expecting anything in return and I think that’s the way I love now. You’ve changed my life in so many ways. You’re the only man I’ve ever liked that my friends liked too and when we broke up they were all so disappointed but I must admit I am thankful that we did.
Honestly, I was settling for you. From the beginning I willed myself into loving you because you needed me and I was settling for you because you needed me. I think you realized that and finally set me free. We’re too different. You taught me what I wanted though and that is someone who I can connect with. Someone similar to me, someone who would rather stay in on a friday night rather than go partying.
Someone who enjoys a calm life.. someone patient.. someone who knows when to let me have my way and when to take control. Someone I can spend my life with.. and that was never you. You are the total opposite of all these things. Even tonight, when we spoke I was reminded of this. We are good as friends, great even and you will always hold a piece of my heart.
I guess this is me.. saying thank you.. thank you for giving me love when I needed it.. for being partially responsible for the woman I am today and for setting me free when I needed it. The world needs more men like you, Mr. You were the one I loved when I needed someone to love and now you’re a friend.. when I need a friend. I do hope and pray that some day you will find your happiness…Thank you for being the man you are. Thank you for teaching me about love and loss and friendship and about life in general. You’re an amazing man and I will forever stand by this statement.
[21 – Turn ons/Offs]
• Turn ons - Smart mouthed women with pretty eyes. Long hair and a bit of a
lopsided smile, but a sweet one. Comfortable with random conversations and
staying up all night for no reason.
• Turn offs – Snobs and materialistic tendencies. He can stand a little but not
when it’s their entire world. Shallowness.
[31 – Most Prized Possession]
• A glass he took from the bar Ango,
Odasaku, and himself frequent.
[35 – Activities they enjoy/think are a
waste of time]
• Enjoys - Drinking, drawing random doodles all over ‘important’ paperwork. Napping
on his couch or playing video games during his morning coffee.
• Hates – Shopping.
[42 – Hobbies]
• The only one he really has is drinking with his friends at the bar and Senpai
[47 – If they were to fall in love
who/what is his ideal partner]
• Someone who has a bit of an odd habit or behavior—that’s what would catch his
eye initially. Someone who doesn’t respond to his flirtation the way he thinks
they will so it ends up catching him off guard. Open minded but smart, willing
to accept him for who he is without holding it against him. Courageous and
caring. Bright eyes full of life and wanderlust.
[48 – How they express love]
• Heated and passionately, but privately. He doesn’t want his enemies knowing
about his s/o. Lots of long nights spent rolling around in the sheets. Baths
for two with bubbles, beer, and sweets. Little presents left on the kitchen
table if he thinks he’s going to be gone all night.