Readers' Favorite 2019 Gold Medal Winner in Non-fiction - Cultural category.
Eastern European mythology and folklore contain a rich, colorful blend of Christian and pagan tales, customs, and rituals. Many have lost their original significance, but others are still practiced—especially in remote, rural locations. Household Spirits, the first in a series of books, will take you on a journey to discover nine fascinating house spirits you may never have heard of. That’s not all. You’ll learn historical facts, discover fascinating and horrifying stories, and enjoy beautiful illustrations to gain a complete experience of these elusive house spirits.
This is a fascinating compilation of stories, traditions and collected information about the spirits and supernatural beings of Eastern European and especially Slavic cultures. There is a wealth of detail, including etymologies of the names and instructions for how to appease or banish each type of spirit. Some are similar to creatures found in fairytales and fantasy stories, while others may be completely new to the reader.
The entries on each different spirit are thorough and richly detailed. The writing is clear and expressive while retaining the straightforward style that is conventional for an informative text. The inclusion of traditional stories, poems and ‘fun facts’ adds depth and texture to each chapter.
This book would definitely appeal to those interested in the supernatural world or in cultural superstitions, and could also serve as a very useful reference work for writers and artists. There is an extensive bibliography and links to other sources that demonstrate the author’s diligence in research and historiography, which gives the reader confidence in the information provided.
This most interesting and engaging book has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe by Ronesa Aveela is the first book in the Spirits and Creatures series. Taken from tales originating as Christian and pagan, Aveela compiles a collection of nine influential spirits: Kikimora, Domovoi, Stopan, Talasum, Smok, Bannik, Ovinnik, Dvorovoi, and Hovanets. Each spirit comes with an exciting story and a rich history to explore with reasons why people have been drawn to them over the years and what their tales have inspired, which in some cases have been music and even ballet. From Kikimora and her role foretelling disaster to the darker side of a Bannik, this is the perfect resource to explore history and belief. Also included is an assortment of illustrations from a variety of artists.
Ronesa Aveela is thorough in the research and portrayal of each spirit to where understanding them is so in-depth they feel like real characters. The structure is incredibly well organized with each chapter depicting a different household spirit and boxes highlighting different tidbits. Included is anything from etymology to music to tales inspired by the spirit. As with most creatures of myth and folktales, each of these has multiple facets which Aveela clearly lays out for a complete understanding of how they're viewed. The amount of research and thoroughness put into each section shows Aveela's passion for the topic. Aveela not only goes into the history but how they functioned in society and how they inspire even today with several examples noted from throughout history. It's fun to engage in what these spirits have inspired, with a few favorites being everything the Kikimora and Domovoi have inspired people to create; from animated film to a ballet by Leonide Massine telling the story of Kikimora and her cat to interactive fiction featuring the Domovoi.
The illustrations are stunning with each artist offering a different interruption and perspective while perfectly capturing the essence of the role each spirit has played. The images are lovely with some providing just the right amount of eeriness, much like some of the spirits themselves. A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe is an extensive account of nine spirits with stunning illustrations, thorough research, and fascinating facts, making it the perfect resource for those who enjoy and want to learn about spirits from folklore.