Although we live in an age where niche fetishes in mainstream media are a dime-a-dozen, there remains one so taboo that it never fails to raise an eyebrow — or a bucket — and that's incest. But has that stopped any of the five novels and their on-screen counterparts from shying away from the topic? No, no it has not.
1. Flowers In The Attic
Author: Virginia Andrews
What's the deal? After her husband dies, a mother tries to win back the love of her terminally ill father — but, because he didn't approve of their relationship (spoilers: her husband was also her uncle), she must hide her four children from him until details of the will are fixed. Unfortunately for the kids, that means shoving them in an attic for a couple of years; giving them some crayons to draw a crap substitute garden on the wall and feeding them arsenic coated doughnuts when they become a bit of a bother. The elders assume roles of parents to the younger two and, once puberty hits, boom, we got ourselves some de-flowering in the attic.
General message: It's OK to bang your brother if your mother is an asshole.
Passage of Filth:
He yelled out something like, "You're mine, Cathy! Mine! You'll always be mine! No matter who comes into your future, you'll always belong to me! I'll make you mine...tonight....now! I had the strong dancer's legs, he had the biceps and greater weight...and he had much more determination than I to use something hot, swollen and demanding, so much that it stole reasoning and sanity from him. And I loved him. I wanted what he wanted — if he wanted it that much, right or wrong. Somehow we wound up on that old mattress — that filthy, smelly stained mattress that must have known lovers long before this night. And that is where he took me, and forced in that swollen, rigid male sex part of him that had to be satisfied. It drove into my tight and resisting flesh which tore and bled.
Movie Adaptations: Flowers in the Attic has spawned two movie adaptations — the first, 10 years after the book's release in 1989, then again in 2014 starring Heather Graham and Mad Men's Kiernan Shipka, the trailer for which you can watch below:
2. How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
What's the deal? When World War III kicks off, 15-year-old Elizabeth (a.k.a Daisy) is sent to live on a remote English farm where she promptly falls in love with her cousin, and, luckily for her, the feeling is mutual. However, after a quiet spell, terrorists take over the farm and drag the girls to a separate place, breaking up the happy couple. When the war ends, Daisy finds her way back to her cousin — who is initially unreasonably pissed at her for leaving — but they soon make up and live happily ever after.
General message: War is a great test of whether your inter-fam canoodles will stand the test of time.
Passage of Filth:
But I would like to make an important point before this goes any further and that is if anyone feels like arresting me for corrupting an innocent kid then all I can say is that Edmond was not corruptible. Some people are just like that and if you don't believe me it just means you've never met one of them yourself. Which is your loss.
Now let's try to understand that falling into sexual and emotional thrall with an underage blood relative hadn't exactly been on my list of Things to Do while visiting England,but I was coming around to the belief that whether you liked it or not, Things Happen and once they start happening you pretty much just have to hold on for dear life and see where they drop you when they stop.
Movie adaptation: How I Live Now was adapted into a feature-length movie in 2013, starring Brookyln's Saoirse Ronan and Tom Holland, whom you probably know better now as Spider-Man!
3. Beautiful Kate
Author: Newton Thornburg
What's the deal? Falling on hard times, a screenwriter returns to his rural Australian family home with his sarky girlfriend in tow and, unfortunately for the both of them, spending time in the house unearths some deeply buried secrets — namely, the fact that he shared an awks sexual encounter with his (now) dead sister, Kate. He keeps track of this memory resurgence in a diary, including detailed descriptions of Kate's relentless pursuit (weird), which the sarky girlfriend reads and, understandably, promptly dumps him.
General message: If you're gonna have sordid fuckery with your sibling, don't write about it.
Passage of filth:
To keep her head from exploding, Kate pressed her hands over her ears and fell back onto the bed. She was wearing a pair of Cliff's outgrown pajamas, with a button missing in front, which prompted me to scrunch down as a low as I could get, hoping for a gilmpse of one of her budding jugs, as we elegantly called them ... As she got up, I copped the peek I wanted, the bottom of curve of one of her tiny jugs.
Movie adaptation: 2009's adaptation of Beautiful Kate scored limited release across Australia, and while it was never shown overseas, it still managed to score 83% on Rotten Tomatoes! Wincest!
4. The Mortal Instruments
Author: Cassandra Clare
What's the deal? Siblings Jace and Clary battle against the feelings they shouldn't be having for each other but oh, that pull of forbidden love is strong. It's OK though, because they're not actually related — Clary's father only took him after his biological father died, so that makes it fine in the grand scheme of fantasy novels, I suppose. Later though, Clary's actual biological brother declares he has feelings for her too, claiming she's the one etc., but she doesn't seem too bothered. Been there, done that.
Message: Clary is a brother-love magnet.
Passage of Filth:
Clary remembered the moment perfectly. The roof garden. The crystalline October night, the stars burning icy white against a cloudless black sky. The paving stones smeared with black runes, splattered with ichor and blood. Jace's mouth on hers, the only warn thing in a shivering world. Clasping the Morgenstern ring around her neck.
TV & Movie adaptation: Clare's work inspired the 2013 movie The Mortal Instruments starring Lily Collins — trailer below — and Shadowhunters TV show that launched earlier this year on Freeform, and has just been greenlit for a second season!
5. A Game Of Thrones
Author: George R.R. Martin
What's the deal? Jaime Lannister and Queen Cersei* have been illicitly into each other since childhood, their affair spawning three kids: Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen — all of whom are (SPOILERS) dead now (ain't karma a bitch) — and, while their incestuous bloodline didn't seem to cause any noticeable physical defects, Joffrey's batshit sadism could be pinned on abnormalities in his mental health.
Message: If a kid unearths your dirty secret, push 'em out the window, like so:
Passage of Filth: Taken from the book A Storm of Swords:
She kissed him. A light kiss, the merest brush of her lips on his, but he could feel her tremble as he slid his arms around her. "I am not whole without you." There was no tenderness in the kiss he returned to her, only hunger. Her mouth opened for his tongue. "No," she said weakly when his lips moved down her neck, "not here. The septons…""The Others can take the septons." He kissed her again, kissed her silent, kissed her until she moaned. Then he knocked the candles aside and lifted her up onto the Mother's altar, pushing up her skirts and the silken shift beneath. She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, murmuring about the risk, the danger, about their father, about the septons, about the wrath of gods. He never heard her. He undid his breeches and climbed up and pushed her bare white legs apart. One hand slid up her thigh and underneath her smallclothes. When he tore them away, he saw that her moon's blood was on her, but it made no difference."Hurry," she was whispering now, "quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime." Her hands helped guide him. "Yes," Cersei said as he thrust, "my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you're home now, you're home now, you're home." She kissed his ear and stroked his short bristly hair. Jaime lost himself in her flesh. He could feel Cersei's heart beating in time with his own, and the wetness of blood and seed where they were joined.
*These two are not the only victims of incest in GoT, House Targaryen, Craster and Theon Greyjoy have all been known for touching up their kin.
TV adaptation: Curtains have just closed on the sixth season of Game of Thrones and Cersei and Jaime are still bangin' away!
Would you give a free pass to any of these sordid souls?