Elves, witches, ogres, mermaids, dwarves, dragons and unicorns are all magical creatures. In some shape or form they have appeared in myths and folklore in cultures all over the world and now we find them in modern fantasy stories too. Some of them are animals, some more similar to humans and others, like mermaids, a cross between the two.
One of the main themes of fantasy stories is the fight between good and evil. Fantasy creatures play an important role in this fight and usually fall into two main categories: friends or enemies. Unicorns, for example, are usually pure creatures with magical healing powers. If you treat them with respect they will help you. Dragons on the other hand are usually considered as dangerous enemies. Some creatures, like elves, are more ambiguous. They are linked to an ancient magical tradition which is both powerful and mysterious. They are usually allied to the forces of good but you can never trust them completely.
Modern interpretations have challenged many stereotypes we have about mythical creatures. Ogres, for example, are traditionally man-eating giants, to be avoided at all costs. But then Shrek arrived and taught a new generation that ogres are funny, friendly and simply misunderstood. Witches once scared children with their spells and magic. Now they are often recognised as sensitive, intelligent women who knew how to work with nature and read the signs it gave. Witches like Hermione Granger even provide role models as independent intelligent women who aren’t afraid to live their true nature.