In her debut novel In the Shadow of the Gods, Rachel Dunne explores the powerful bond between twins. Twins Fratarro and Sororra grew more powerful than their parents (the Divine Mother and Almighty Father) could have ever imagined. Fearful of the twins’ powers, their parents trapped them deep within the earth. Fratarro and Sororra have been biding their time there, gathering what power they can and preparing to strike back against their parents when the time is right. Together, these twins could change the world or destroy it. Here, Dunne shares with Bookish readers some of her favorite twins from books, movies, and television.
Twins are something that, as a culture, we have a kind of fascination with. There are a whole slew of twin tropes, from twins using their powers of identicality to get into hijinks, to twins being a creepy or supernatural force. No matter what their purpose, twins crop up in literature and movies just as often as they do in real life—partly due to realism, I’m sure, but also because in fiction there are just so many good uses for these duos. These are a few of my favorite fictional twins:
Some of the most well-known twins these days, Cersei and Jaime are treated as two sides of the same coin, yin and yang, opposing forces that balance each other out. This is a common treatment for twins, especially male-female twins: both different, but the same. Cersei herself describes them as completing each other, though to be fair… context makes it a little weirder. Still, Jaime and Cersei are a prime example of twins being used as equal but opposite forces: both selfish, self-interested, and self-preserving at their cores; male and female, knight and queen, charming and cold, a man of action and a woman of thoughts, one given power and one constantly having it taken away. There are a lot of similarities between Jaime and Cersei, but their differences are just as striking.
You can’t talk about fictional twins and not talk about the Weasley twins. Fred and George represent another common depiction of twins: identical in looks and personality, nearly the same character split into two bodies. They get some of that fancy twin telepathy, often finishing each other’s sentences or knowing what the other is thinking. Fred and George are generally comic relief, tricksters who occasionally help the plot along but are mostly there to keep the reader chuckling. That changes, of course, when (spoiler alert… but if you haven’t read the books or seen the movies by this point, you probably weren’t ever going to) Fred dies, which opens up an interesting exploration of what happens when one half of a whole disappears.
Apollo and Artemis
Twins crop up fairly often in mythology—proof that twins have always fascinated us. Though the Greek pantheon is notoriously thorny, and there are a lot of examples of twins, triplets, octuplets, and more, the most well-known twin gods are Apollo and Artemis. As gods of the sun and moon respectively, they’ve surely earned their place in mythology. Though Artemis is in some respects a victim of her gender and the times (eternal virgin, goddess of childbirth), she’s also equal to her brother in many ways: both excellent hunters, and both gods of the hunt.
The Grady twins are the very definition of creepy twins. If you don’t know them by name, they’re the ominous “come play with us” girls who show up briefly in The Shining. In the book, they’re just normal siblings, but the movie adaptation upped the creepiness factor by making them twins, and I have to call this an excellent adaptational decision: For a scene whose only purpose is to add to the movie’s growing horror, having two mirror-image girls chanting in unison is that much more disturbing.
All the clones on Orphan Black might as well all be twins (or octuplets, or whatever) separated at birth, and the show raises a lot of the same nature vs. nurture questions that identical twins are prone to exploring—if you have people who are genetically identical, how can they possibly be different? Sarah and her growing group of sestras are all unique individuals, yet they’ve got some striking similarities across the board. Even better, there’s an actual set of twins among Clone Club, but that’s a spoiler for another day….
Living in the cold reaches of the upper Midwest with her beast of a dog, Rachel Dunne has developed a great fondness for indoor activities. This, her first novel, was a semifinalist for the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award before being picked up for publishing. For as long as snow continues falling in Wisconsin, she promises to keep writing.