Unless you’re from Scotland or Ireland, banshees take a bit of a back seat in the books we read. I’ll be honest, they didn’t spring to mind when I first started writing up this lucky dip supernatural creatures encyclopedia. But after reading this amazing novella based on the old Irish tale of the banshee, these haunting creatures popped back onto my radar.
The sorrowful Irish maidens of death.
In Irish legend, the banshee tends to be a woman who either sings or screams whenever death draws near. In most legends, the cry of the banshee is a signal of death, whether it has just happened, is about to happen, or if someone is about to undertake a dangerous task in which they will most likely perish.
Painted as red-eyed, pale, cloaked women in most tales, sometimes banshees are fairies. Other times they are the ghosts of women who have died during childbirth or the victims of violent murders. Cheerful stuff!
Banshees aren’t so charming.
Some of you awesome witch lovers might have watched the TV series Charmed. Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige were my heroes as a teen! In a particularly gruesome episode, the banshee targets those who are experiencing deep grief and emotional pain, and kills them by screaming at them until all their blood vessels pop. Ouch. But it wouldn’t be Charmed without a little blood and guts.
Banshees add a little fright to our fiction.
There’s no two ways about it, banshees are pretty terrifying even if they aren’t always trying to scream us to death. While vampires, werewolves, and demons have their own obvious dangers, banshees bring a little more character to the supernatural party.
If you’re looking for any good banshee reads, I’ve finished one just recently! Hear Me Cry is a retelling by Amanda J. Evans about the origins of the first banshee – a really immersive, award-winning novella that I just had to give 5 stars in its The Secret Library book review. Check it out here!
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