I read through the entire Dresden Files series without knowing a lot of the mythology Jim Butcher drew from. I just got absorbed in the story. But Cat Sith was always gnawing on me, I always knew he was set up to be something awesome but I kinda missed the point.
Just goes to show you that mythology is symbols and stories that are buried inside our collective unconscious. I didn’t know what Cat Sith is, so I felt none of the dread it was supposed to inflict. Same with the Wild Hunt, and same with the shapeshifter Native American thingie (Edit after googling it: The Skin-Walker.)
God, I hated that Skin-Walker story. It was set up to be sooo awesome but it fell flat for me because I didn’t have the proper cultural background. Sure, I know now what it is, and I’ve seen it being used in other stories like Supernatural etc, but I didn’t back then and I couldn’t appreciate the weight of the story. Valkyries and Odin I knew of for example in the same story so I could get the narrative.
So, my point is, perhaps I make the same mistake? Do I assume that the myths I use are widely known by everybody and simply move on without a reference? Or, do I need to at least mention the myth inside the story, sort of like a meta-dialogue, a knowable character saying something as a nod to the reader?
I don’t know. Thinking about it now, I see American movies and series going this way, they usually have someone mention the myth in a line or two and then draw the modern parallel. I’ll have to keep it in mind as I write:
Not everybody knows the entirety of Greek mythology.