One of my Christmas presents this year was a copy of Gary R. Varner’s Creatures in the Mist: Little People, Wild Men and Spirit Beings around the World, A Study in Comparative Mythology. At less than 200 pages, the book is only slightly longer than the title, and I’m finding a very good read about faeries, mermaids, giants, and other mythological creatures and their striking similarities across many lands and cultures.
Although Varner is an academic type, this book is written at a very accessible level. Despite a few editorial miscues, I’m finding it to be a very enlightening read. Varner highlights broad themes–for example, the connection between faeries and children, both positively via their associations with childbirth and negatively because of the whole child-stealing thing–that keep showing up in myths from all over the world.
I’m less than halfway through, but I can definitely see this being the sort of book I keep coming back to as I wonder about mythological creatures and their cultural significance.