This week I have been talking a lot about Mental Health and Illness in books and as you will have probably seen, all of those books have been contemporaries. And there is a reason for that. mental illness is not something that is really discussed and explored in fantasy books. But, thankfully, that is slowly starting to change. So today I wanted to tell you about a few Fantasy books that do actually contain an explore the idea of mental health.
A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J Maas
Depression and Anxiety, plus elements of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Stockholm Syndrome
This is a story that follows a young woman names Fayre as she is essentially kidnapped by a Faerie and held prisoner as a punishment for killing a Faerie. Throughout this series you get to see several elements of mental illness. And not just from Fayre. You witness several characters display elements of post-traumatic stress disorder. You also see characters dealing with depression and anxiety. There are even elements of Stockholm Syndrome in the first book. throughout this series these issues are not just brushed over like they are in other books and there is no instant fix. You get to see an accurate and real representation of these issues within these books and that is so refreshing in a fantasy novel. Plus, these books are just straight up incredible.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Anxiety because of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
I openly admit that this series started out very strong but petered out towards the end. But, even with that, I will say that I was impressed by the fact that it included some elements of mental illness. Particularly in book two you see the main character, 17-year-old Tris, dealing with anxiety brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder. I will admit that there is a bit of insta-cure in this book but for the most part the portrayal is fairly accurate and realistic. It was nice to witness someone actually feel the consequences of their actions and be traumatized through it.
Hunger Games by Suzane Collins
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression
This trilogy is basically just a walking factory for PTSD. In case you are unfamiliar with this trilogy, essentially it follows a group of randomly chosen 12 to 18 year olds as they are placed into an arena where they must kill each other contestant. Only one will survive. It’s essentially thunder dome but with teenagers. As you can see this clearly affects the survivors in a very serious way. the main character Katniss experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, so does the other main character Peeta and other ‘winners’ plus another character sufferers from alcoholism due to depression. Both of these issues are explored brilliantly throughout the books. There are flashbacks, nightmares, delusions, near panic attacks. It is just a very accurate portrayal of PTSD.
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression
there are so many brilliant portrayals of mental illness throughout this series. These books follow a group of 5 friends as they search for a long dead welsh king and discover magic. throughout this series the characters all experience a lot. Ronan is clearly suffering from depression following the murder of his father, Adam has PTSD and Anxiety because of abuse by his father and past events and then there is Gangsey who exhibits symptoms of anxiety and who we actually witness have a panic attack at times. And that is just the three biggest topics covered. I was so incredibly impressed with the way that these topics were handled in these books. It was so accurate and really demonstrated how even the strongest people have demons.
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression
Okay, so this is actually more so in the Heroes Of Olympus series then the Percy Jackson one, but you need to read PJ to read HOO. In the second half of the HOO series two of the main characters start to display symptoms of PTSD, which is completely unsurprising given what they have been through. But throughout both series Nico constantly displays symptoms of depression. It isn’t the best representation out there but I love that it is there in a middle grade series as it really helps to bring it to the knowledge of people that may not have been exposed to it before now.
And there we go. As you can see post-traumatic stress disorder is definitely the most common illness portrayed in fantasy books but slowly we are getting more representation. And you would be surprised how many fantasy books do at least have a small amount of mental health/illness in them. for instance, the 5th Harry Potter book has elements of PTSD and depression, the second twilight book has depression, the Mortal Instruments has PTSD, Half Bad has PTSD and so many more. if you know what to look for, it is there. Have you found any fantasy books with good Mental Illness representation? I hope that you have enjoyed todays post and I will see you all again very soon.
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