Friday, March 16, 2012

Novel Superstitions

Very superstitious... writing’s on the wall.

Just a little Stevie Wonder to get you in the mood!

For any new readers to The Lucky 13s blog, do you know that at the end of our introduction posts, all the Lucky 13s have to mention their favourite superstition? Mine is from a poem by A.A. Milne called 'Lines and Squares': never step on the cracks in the pavement - or else you might get eaten by a bear.

The superstitions of different people and cultures have always fascinated me because they are so varied and yet in a lot of ways they are also similar. Since it is such a deeply ingrained part of human nature, I began to think about what superstitions I could remember from characters in novels.

Superstitious? Me? Never!
One of my favourite (and probably one of the most famous) superstitions has to come from the mighty Harry Potter. Of course, all the witches and wizards must never dare speak the name of “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, as if saying the very name aloud could invoke his evil power.

The entire premise of The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delany (known as The Last Apprentice to folks in the US!) is based upon a superstition about the seventh son of a seventh son having special powers. In this case, he can see all sorts of magical creatures that others cannot, and although he trains to protect people in need, he is feared by those who believe he meddles in dark magic.

And in Cecelia Ahern’s The Gift, she misses out Chapter 13 all together in order to preserve the themes of superstition running throughout the book. Somehow I don't think she would make a very good Lucky 13!

In my own work, I knew that the society I was writing about in The Oathbreaker’s Shadow – where promises are sealed with knots and broken vows mark the betrayer with scars on their skin – would be a deeply superstitious one. My characters (especially the older folk), won’t start out on a journey without first making an invocation to the sun goddess, Sola. And shooting stars don't signal it's time to make a wish, but are another dark omen from the gods of a promise broken.

Are any of your characters superstitious? Or do you have a favourite superstitious character from a novel? I remember distinctly a YA fantasy novel where wards are drawn in the air to protect against evil, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name! 


Amy McCulloch is a girl of many publishing hats: author, editor and reader. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she currently lives in London, UK. Other than books, she is addicted to travelling, running and Starbucks coffee. 

Her debut YA fantasy-adventure novel, THE OATHBREAKER'S SHADOW is due from Random House Children's Books in Spring 2013. Find out more on her blog, add me on Facebook, or feel free to say hello on Twitter!


  1. Eaten by a bear? Oh, my gosh. And here I always thought if you stepped on a crack, you would "break your mother's back." Both sound horrible.

    Nice to meet you, Amy!

  2. My illustrated copy of the poem had great big bears lurking around every corner. Here it is:

    When I lived in England, it wasn't so much of a worry, but once I moved to Canada... suddenly being eaten for lunch by a bear could be a distinct possibility!

  3. I have a character who is convinced she's on the bad end of karma. It's probably because my mom was a broken record saying, "What comes around goes around."