Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s top 10 supernatural families

The Pevensies in the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Gang of four … the Pevensies in the 2005 film of CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a teen model and a primate cognition researcher. She graduated from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science and used her research to imagine the werewolf world in her first novel, Raised by Wolves. She currently teaches Yale’s most popular undergraduate class, Sex, Evolution and Human Nature, which looks at what evolutionary psychology and mating behaviour in animals can tell us about human nature.
“There’s only one thing I love more than a good supernatural story, and that’s a story that explores what it means to be a family: the good, the bad and the ugly. Whether it’s a family of choice or blood makes very little difference to me, but there’s something so compelling about the idea of being connected to other people and part of their lives in a permanent and often complicated way. One of the reasons I chose to write about werewolves was because it offered a lot of opportunities to explore growing up within – and sometimes away from – your family (or, in werewolf terms, your pack). So, in honour of my two favourite things in literature, I give you my top 10 supernatural families in fiction.”
1. The Weasleys (the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling)

From Fred and George to the insufferable Percy (not to mention Ginny’s performance in Chamber of Secrets), the Weasley family is brimming with memorable characters and complex relationships – leading to some of the best lines and most heartbreaking scenes in the entire seven-book series.

2. Nick and Alan Ryves (The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan)

One’s a strategist, the other has a habit of keeping swords under the sink. But as different as they are, these demon-hunting brothers exemplify what it means to put family first – while their twisted family history makes their dedication to each other all the more affecting. With the end of the trilogy forthcoming, my biggest concern isn’t the fate of the various romantic relationships in the book. It’s the brotherly bond at its core.

3. Paige, Lucas, and Savannah (Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong)

I love that we’ve seen Savannah (part demon, part sorcerer, part witch and altogether unprecedented) grow over the course of the series from a 12-year-old kid to a 21-year-old striking out on her own – almost as much as I like the way inheriting custody of Savannah forced Paige, a temperamental young witch, to grow up overnight. Add in Paige’s husband (sorcerer, lawyer, idealist) and this family is the neatest mix of light and dark, with their devotion to each other stronger than any of their supernatural ties.

4. The Sharpe family (White Cat by Holly Black)

Who doesn’t love a family of con-artists? Between a mother in the slammer, a grandfather who used to magically “work” death for a living and older brothers with nefarious plans of their own, this book gives a whole new meaning to the term “family business”.

5. The Pevensies (the Narnia series by CS Lewis)

While not supernatural themselves, these four dimension-traversing siblings set the bar for family-centred fantasy adventure. Inspired by their adventures, I used to force my brother to look for fantasy worlds hidden in our closets. He was not pleased.

6. The Cullens (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer)

While most people think “romance” when they think of the Twilight franchise, I think the idea of being adopted into a beautiful, mysterious and tight-knit family holds just as much wish-fulfilment appeal as Bella and Edward’s human/vampire romance. As a reader, I never fell head-over-heels for Edward, but I would love to play vampire baseball with the Cullens.

7. Stefan and Damon Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith)

Long before Twilight mania, these two brothers – on-and-off mortal enemies, doomed to forever fall for the same girls – gave readers a vampire family to sink their teeth into. Reading about them makes me think you really can’t escape your family, even if you try for more than a hundred years.

8. The Stackhouses (The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris)

The Stackhouse family has their share of (figurative) skeletons in the closet – supernatural relatives, illicit affairs and everyday trauma and tragedy – but at the end of the day there’s nothing Sookie wouldn’t do for her brother, Jason, or the cousins (human or not) that just keep crawling out of the woodwork.

9. The Murry family (A Wrinkle in Time quartet by Madeleine L’Engle)

Another family that may not be actually supernatural, the Murry family finds itself constantly entangled in adventures of the science-fiction variety nonetheless – time travel, space hopping, even adventuring into the family baby’s mitochondria. Plus, what other family can boast a Nobel prize-winning mum?

10. The Peltiers (the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon)

I’ve always been fascinated by big families, so the Peltiers – who have 12 children and run their own bar – would be a favourite of mine even if they weren’t also were-bears (yes, were-bears).


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