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FIVE ICELANDIC CREATURES PERFECT FOR HORROR

Written by Villimey Mist

When people think of Iceland, the first things that come to mind are the northern lights, hot springs, midnight sun and our delightful Icelandic horses, just to name a few.

They don‘t, however, think of monsters or mythical creatures. I don‘t blame them. Iceland is just a tiny island way up in the North Atlantic. Tourists would rather focus on the beautiful landscape and the rough, almost non-touched environment.

It‘s a shame, really, because Iceland is full of monsters, most of them are even allegedly recorded in our ancient history texts. I‘m going to list a few of those monsters/mythical creatures here and give you some examples of why they‘d be perfect for horror stories.

skoffin

Skoffín

Skoffín is said to be the offspring between a male fox and a female cat but there are other sources that it comes from a rooster egg. When it hatches from its egg, it burrows a hole into the ground and resurfaces in three years. Its size is believed to be similar to a medium-sized dog or a fox.

It might seem harmless but its gaze is quite deadly, similar to that of a basilisk gaze. If you look into its eyes, you might die. It is said that many cattle and sheep died because of it and was quite a menace to the farmers.
Normal bullets don't seem to work on it, unless you do the cross sign in front of the barrel of the gun and carry silver bullets.

There are a few stories of it that were gathered by Jón Árnason, the latest dating Spring 1956. They are hard to see, probably because they are related to foxes and the Icelandic foxes here are super shy towards humans.

Now, imagine being swarmed by those creatures one night and you‘d have to shut your eyes the entire time so that you wouldn‘t die from its gaze. That‘s kind of horrifying, like an Icelandic creature-feature version of Bird Box.

 nykur

Nykur

Nykur is one of the most famous mythical creatures in Iceland (even mentioned in the Icelandic Book of Settlement) due to its similarity to the Icelandic horse.

However, it‘s known for living in lakes, streams and rivers and you do not want to go and pet that horse! If you try to ride it, it will drag you to the bottom of the lake and drown you.

If you want to survive, it‘s best to say its name or be near a church, because some believe that this mythical creature is Satan disguised as a horse.

This is a classic take on looks that can be deceiving because there are so many instances that tourists try to pet our Icelandic horses or even ride them. Imagine their slow painful deaths as they hop on Nykur and drown in the nearest lake. I even wrote a short horror story based on Nykur and if you‘re curious, you can read it in the Far From Home: Adventure Horror anthology that Off Limits Press will be releasing this year

tamur

Taumur

Taumur, or “bridle fish”, is one of the many illhveli – the “evil whales” of Iceland. It is the most dangerous and feared of the evil whales, as are the others. Its flesh is inedible, and speaking its name at sea will attract its unwelcome attention.

Its name is derived from the white or pink stripes extending from its eyes to its mouth, and from its mouth outwards. These contrast sharply with its raven-black color, and give the appearance of a bridle. In the East Fjords it is known as the “big shorthorn”, distinguishing it from the “little shorthorn” or minke whale which is smaller and shorter-finned. Taumur is slightly larger than the Stökkull in size.

Taumur are cruel, destructive, and spiteful; worse than that, they have an excellent memory and will hold grudges for as long as they live, tracking down anyone who has escaped them. They flip boats over, tear them up with their teeth, pummel them with their tails, and even get under them crosswise and fold them in half.

Now, I‘d love to see a story where whalers end up fighting this badass whale! Or a slow-burn revenge tale of Taumur and how it stalks its prey. I know I wouldn‘t want to be in those waters with that thing in there. I may have written one such story.

huldufolk

Huldufólk

Huldufólk (or the Hidden people) are the Icelandic version of elves, wearing 19th-century Icelandic clothing. They are supernatural beings that live in nature, and yet they also reside in a world that‘s connected to ours.

They are believed to be more alluring, beautiful and haunting as the guardians of nature. If people harmed nature in any way, the Huldufólk would punish them. For example, it is said if you desecrated a hidden people‘s home – which often were big boulders – they would put a curse on you.

During road construction in Kópavogur in 1971, a bulldozer broke down. The driver placed the blame on elves living in a large rock. Despite locals not having been aware of any elves living in the rock, newspapers ran with the story, thus starting the myth that Icelandic road construction was often impeded by elves.

Some people say that the Huldufólk have lineage to the Irish Fae, which doesn‘t come as a surprise since Icelanders themselves have some kind of Irish ancestry due to the Viking raids in Ireland and Scotland. There are tales of Huldufólk taking children and swapping them with their own.

A horror writer could definitely turn the Huldufólk into a haunting cautionary tale of why you shouldn‘t mess with nature. It‘s an eco-horror waiting to happen!

the yule cat

The Yule Cat

Everyone knows about the Yule Cat.

No?

Oh, it‘s just a huge-ass cat that lurks in the countryside around Christmas Eve, looking for people who didn‘t get clothes for Christmas and eats them.

The legend of the Yule Cat was used by farmers to make sure that their workers would finish getting the wool ready before Christmas. Those who finished received new clothes, but those who were lazy got nothing and were threatened with the monstrous cat.

This legend still lives on in the hearts of Icelanders and it‘s very common to give at least one type of clothing, be it socks or even mittens, for Christmas so that the Yule Cat won‘t come and eat you.

I love cats but I wouldn‘t want to be cat chow to that cat! Imagine the agony of being ripped apart and then the cat would spend hours playing with the torn limbs before ultimately eating them. Oh, but it was so much fun to write a short story with the Yule Cat, which you can find in Krampus Tales: A Killer Anthology published by Jazz House Publications.

Paired with the endless darkness that comes with winter, Iceland is the perfect playground for these monsters and mythical beings. I look forward to both write more horror with them as well as reading them, and I hope you will too.

Horror DNA would like to thank Villimey Mist again for sharing these awesome Icelandic creatures. Make sure to pick up her book by clicking one of the links below!

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