Saturday, October 17, 2009

CharacterExploration: The Denali Sisters - Slutty Succubi, or Misunderstood?

The Denali Sisters
Magan bagan

artist loreley25
Raise your hand if you cringed as you read their names. *glances around and counts the number of hands* Yeah, the Denali sisters (and I think we can include Carmen as one of the sisters) aren’t really well liked through the fandom.

More often than not, they are used as the antagonist in a story, Tanya especially. She wants Edward and will do whatever it takes to get him.

I’ll admit that I’ve used Tanya as a supposed bad guy in a couple of my stories, but it’s always been a play on Bella’s insecurities. So, I asked myself and a few others a few questions before starting this. What is it about the Denali sisters that everyone seems to hate? Is it just Tanya, or are the others included? Are these ladies really just misunderstood?

Canon Tanya, Kate, and Irina:

artist VanVan13
What exactly do we know about these three?

Until we got to Breaking Dawn, not very much. Most of what we found out was through Bella’s eyes, stemming from her insecurities and fear that she wasn’t good enough for Edward. But, one of the first things that we did learn about them was that they were “vegetarians” just like the Cullens. They thought of themselves as Carlisle’s extended family.

Having lost their mother to the Volturi for her grievances against them, the sisters’ sense of family loyalty is especially thick. They are beautiful, independent and strong.

The leaked chapters of Midnight Sun also give us a small look into who Tanya was. She couldn’t help showing her affection for Edward, but still managed to encourage him to face his problems. Kate taught Bella how to use her talent and familiarize herself with it when Bella was changed, and she found her mate Garrett. She proved herself, along with Tanya, to be a forced to be reckoned with, while still maintaining a loving, sensitive nature.

Irina, on the other hand, proved herself to be the one we could all despise. She betrayed her family (her sisters and the Cullens) by running to the Volturi in the last book.

Ex-girlfriend Tanya:

artist Leah522
Usually the sisters are used as the bad guys in fics. Well, actually, Tanya is. If the Denali sisters are mentioned, it’s more than likely the sister we all love to hate. Tanya is usually Edward’s ex-girlfriend, who is back in the picture to steal him from Bella. She’s there to cause trouble, to make things worse for our favorite lovers, to gain better status because of Edward’s looks or money.

- It all stems from the fact that for most of us we got to know Tanya through Bella's mind first. And at that point in the story, Bella still considered just about all other females a threat. And my guess would be that insecurity was something we all latched onto in some respect, and most can identify with. We all fear the ex-girlfriend, the past of the guy we're after. It’s so much easier to make the past, the ex, the bad guy. Tanya is the embodiment of our insecurities. Beautiful, blonde, single, and she wanted him.

As soon as Tanya appears, it is an automatic reaction to assume that she is up to no good. I’ll admit that I was ready to think the worst of the Denali sisters, too. We need them to be the scapegoat because of the potential ‘threat’ Tanya posed to Bella.

No one really ever seems to see Kate or Irina that way though. Occasionally you’ll find a fic with all three of the sisters as the ‘troublemakers’, but not often.

Passionate Tanya:

One story that I’ve found that really seemed to bring out the true essence of Tanya’s character was
Mens Rea: A Guilty Mind
. Even though you only get to see Tanya in the first chapter, you are immediately hit with a good understanding of who she was. She was beautiful, strong willed, passionate, and not afraid to fight for what she wanted.

Familial Sisters

artist Lieworld
Even though people like to paint Tanya and her sisters badly, occasionally you’ll find a story that shows a different perspective. In
Holding Out For You
you find Tanya as the loving wife and mother who passed away prior to the story’s beginning. She had a wonderful marriage with her husband and loved her children.

- Reality is, that fanfic has made her a bad character because people are threatened by a beautiful vamp that loved our beloved hero. She was never rude and very respectful in chapter two of Midnight Sun. She never once was snarky or awful to Bella in the books. Of course, she would be curious to see who won his heart but she has a penchant for human men so she has to understand the desire Edward has. So, she’s raked over the coals in fanfic when in reality she was just another girl that had a crush on Edward.

Coming to Terms
offered a more motherly look at Tanya and Kate. Ginny played off of Bella’s insecurities as a new mother, making it seem as though ‘perfect’ Tanya would be a threat, but she was really just like every other new mother. Even her use of Kate had maternal instinct to it, being there for Bella when she found out that she was pregnant and helping her to figure out what to do.

Or in one case, Tanya can be the wife and mother that just wasn’t cut out for it, such as in
Dearly Departed
. Tanya wasn’t mean or cruel, at least with trying to get Edward back, she just wasn’t ready to be a mother and had no qualms admitting that.

take a wonderful view of the sisters in their stories together, including in
The Fates
. With Tanya as Aphrodite (Love) and Kate as a beautiful, strong willed cop, how could they go wrong?

- For the record. Tanya was not a bitch in the books. She was beautiful and she wanted Edward, but she wasn't a bitch. Why she has become so maligned in FF is beyond me. In theory - if any of the three were to be castigated for their behavior, it would be Irina for her decisions in Breaking Dawn. It probably won't be a surprise that Kate (and vicariously Garrett) were two of my fave characters in BD because of the opportunity they presented.

That said - I have used Kate actively in 2 of my stories (What You Thought You Knew and
The Fates
) - and I adore the nobility and loyalty she represents. When ProfMom and I wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's, we agreed early on that Tanya would be represented like she was in the actual Twi series - Beautiful and Smart with a bit of history with Edward. If you think about it, the poor girl never stood a chance. Imagine having to see Carlisle, Emmett, Jasper and Edward, yet constantly be alone. I feel sorry for her - one would think she had everything, therefore her vilianization in fan fic is beyond me.

In some ways, I think Tanya represents the woman that we are all threatened by. If the situation were slightly different, it would have been Rose (but for Emmett). A beautiful, smart woman interested in the object of our affection. It's easy to project, isn't it?

AU Tanya

artist Eclipse-Away
Most uses of Tanya and her sisters in the Alternate Universe setting seemed to be a little more accurate in their betrayal of them.

When I did a search on I found a one-shot by
blondie AKA robin
that was an interesting take on the wedding in Breaking Dawn. It’s called
With Great Restraint
and is set during the scene that Bella and Jacob are off to the side dancing and talking. Edward and Tanya are out on the dance floor and he asks her advice about being with a human. Her interpretation of what happened during that time was wonderfully accounted for, even considering Tanya and her sisters as succubi.

Ithaca is Gorges
, a fic set after New Moon also takes an interesting look at the Denali sisters. Told from both Carlisle and Edward’s perspectives, you get a peek at how close they ‘covens’ are with each other. Giselle explores the sisters’ use of their sensual nature, making it almost second for them to be flirtatious and affectionate with the men in their lives, whether they planned to be with them or not.

A post Breaking Dawn one-shot,
Waning Moon
, dealt with the aftermath of the last battle.
went into some detail about how Tanya and Kate felt after losing Irina and how they moved on with their lives, helping spread the word about the Cullen coven.
Magan bagan
has been a part of the Twilight fandom for a year now and loves it even more so than before. She is the author of such stories as
No One Saw the Pain
The Family that Stays Together
For the Love of a King
, and
A Perfect Twilight
. She is also co-host for a Twilight podcast
Cullens Court Cast
and is involved in many other aspects in the fandom.
Archived Explorations:

Upcoming Characters:
Rosalie, Lauren, Vampward, AHward.


  1. I write Lauren Mallory in a positive light (probably one of the few). If you need help with her character profile, I would be happy to help. I have re-read most of the books just to get her character and all of the scenes with her in them down.

  2. Hi, I would be interested in helping out on the Lauren Mallory character exploration. I think I am the only one in the fandom to give her a backstory and turn her into a likeable character. For my writing, I have re-read almost all of the Lauren scenes in the books to pick up on a few of the Lauren mannerism and conversations.

    I really enjoy reading these character explorations.


  3. I absolutely adore your character exploration things. Every single one has given me some new level of insight to the character.

    I was wondering, could I perhaps do a profile on Mike Newton? He's such a fascinating character in the fandom, but he's been tarnished so much.

    My penname on FFn and T'ed is Tellytubby101.

    If someone else has dibs on him, that's fine. But I hope that I would be able to write a few things about him.

    From Tubby. :-)

  4. All characters are currently spoken for, ladies. If an opening pops up, I'll be announcing it here on the blog. Thanks for the interest in contributing though!

    And kudos to you, Megan, for a truly thorough and captivating exploration of the lovely Denali sisters!

  5. Thank you AG! I'm so glad that it turned out well and I hope that you ladies enjoyed it.


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