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Young Croatian writer revives old Croatian legend of Štorka

Hrvatsko Zagorje (uzagorju.com)

The legend of Štorka (Shtorka) dates back at least a hundred years and it was most known in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region (Croatian Zagorje). 

The legend of Shtorka is in threat of fading into oblivion, so young Croatian writer Jelena Hrvoj took it as a mission to revive it.

First of all, let us explain what Shtorka is. In its simplest form, it is a mythical creature similar to the Boogeyman. The visual identity of this supernatural creature remains unknown and the idea of its shape remains in the imagination of the individual. 

Its main purpose was to frighten naughty children. You might ask yourself why, but the explanation is that of the practical nature. All children tend to be naughty at times and that hasn’t changed through time. Unfortunately, in the past, it was a bit different than today and there were more ways for children to get hurt. So here is where Shtorka came in the picture. 

Writer Jelena Hrvoj

If a child would tend to go to the, for example, attic, Shtorka would lurk in the attic. If a child would want to venture to the woods, Shtorka was there too. Basically, Shtorka was anywhere where an individual could get hurt as mentioned before. So, what would Shtorka do to the one who goes to forbidden places? It would take you and drag you straight to hell where you would be tortured for all of eternity. With time, it was enough to say: “Shtorka will come to get you.” and the imagination and fright would do the rest. 

Where is Shtorka today? As most folklore legends in the region, it is slowly dying out but four years ago, Jelena Hrvoj decided to bring back tales her grandmother used to tell her when she was a child. 

The psychological thriller Shtorka was published in December 2014 in Croatia. Although Shtorka in the mentioned book is not portrayed as the mythological creature, its characteristics remain the same. Jelena’s Shtorka gained a modern version in the form of the voice in the head of the main character Era Torin who suffers from schizophrenia, or so she thinks.

The Shtorka from Jelena’s life lived in the attic and the fictional Shtorka lives in the head of the main character. The book is filled with different symbolism that, in its core, follows the tradition of this folk tale. 

The book soon gained a big interest amongst readers of all age so the story of Shtorka lives on. This month Shtorka was published in English in the hope it will reach as many people around the world and survive as a part of Croatia’s tradition. The book is now available on Amazon here.

More details about Jelena in the video below and on her Facebook page here.

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