Girl at Midnight is a new fantasy novel by Melissa Grey, and it came out last month! Melissa is on the blog today to talk about her favorite fantasy tropes!
Tropes get a bad rap, but I don’t think they’re necessarily a bad thing. They’re not always clichés – they can be conventions that make a genre go ‘round. I like to think of tropes as more of a storytelling language upon which a narrative can be built. Here are five of my favorite tropes in fantasy fiction, with a few examples of where to find them:
1. The Evil Queen - She's everywhere, from Grimm's Fairy Tales to Disney’s modern take. She is Maleficent. She is the White Witch. She is the Queen of Hearts. She is Snow White's nameless nemesis. She is the fierce, ferocious matriarchal figure that strikes fear into the hearts of men, who threatens the virtue of the fair maidens who cross her path. She is a misogynist’s worst nightmare. And for that, I love her. The most recent Evil Queen to find a place in my heart is Amarantha from Sarah J. Maas's recently released A Court of Thorns and Roses.
2. Subterranean societies - Human life is busy and bustling and so full of noise and obligations and clutter that it's entirely possible for there to be an entire world beneath our feet without us even noticing. From mythological mole people to fairies hiding in mounds of earth, the idea of subterranean secret societies is an enduring one. The world can be a harsh and unforgiving place, so it can be comforting (and a little scary) to think there might be complex, fully developed magical realms, just waiting to be found if only we look hard enough or if we fall through the right crack, as Richard Mayhew does in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
3. The Loyal Friend - We've all been hurt by someone we trusted. Betrayal isn't something unique to fantasy literate, unfortunately, and neither is loyalty, but the world of fantasy has a way of testing the bonds of friendship that most quotidian scenarios can't even begin to approach. If we're ever tasked with bearing the burden of an evil, all-powerful ring that we must cast into the fires of Mordor, may we all be lucky enough to have a Samwise Gamgee by our side. His unwavering friendship is what inspired Ivy's loyalty to Echo in The Girl at Midnight.
4. The Reluctant Hero - In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare wrote: "Some men are born great; some achieve greatness; some have greatness thrust upon them." It's the latter category that fascinates me the most. How well would I deal with the revelation that I was a wizard, as happens to Harry Potter on his eleventh birthday, or that I'm the only one who can battle a great and terrible darkness as Alina Starkov discovers in Shadow and Bone, or that I'm the only hope the Rebel Alliance has of bringing down the Death Star as Luke Skywalker does in Star Wars? Probably not as well as any of them, to be completely honest.
5. Tall, Dark, and Handsome - Who doesn't love a bad boy? Especially a bad boy with magic powers? I feel like I just need to point at the Darkling from The Grisha trilogy to explain my fascination with this trope. I love me a good (or evil) dark lord. There's also Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hades from Greek mythology (who isn't always completely terrible, depending on the source material), and Dracula (though I'm partial to the Castlevania version rather than Bram Stoker's original).Thanks so much, Melissa!
The Girl at Midnight is out now!