Friday, March 24, 2006

Dark Fantasy

There are many subgenres within the Fantasy genre. Dark Fantasy is a small, but growing one. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy defines Dark Fantasy as a story that incorporates a sense of horror but is clearly fantasy(1). This definition does not include the supernatural or magic, but should. A book should have a fantasy element to come under this category. Dark Fantasy is growing because readers like stories with a dark edge or that scare them. Many authors have written good books that fall under this subgenre.

Some of Mercedes Lackey's titles come under this category. Her books about the romance writer and magic user Diana Tregarde and her partner, a vampire named Andre LeBrel have provided interesting tales. Children of the Night tells about how these characters meet and fight a psychic vampire. In Burning Water, Diana Tregarde combats a manifestation of Aztec magic. Jinx High takes place in a high school, combating a vicious teenage witch. Unfortunately for readers, there will not be any more of these books.

The fantasy novel, A Cavern of Black Ice, by J.V. Jones can be in this sub-genre as well as Epic Fantasy. This book is full of dark images and magic. The main character can kill by making heart shots with complete accuracy. There are brutal assassins and vile, evil characters. A Fortress of Grey Ice is the second book of the trilogy with more of the dark story unfolding.

Resurrection Man by Sean Stewart is a Dark Fantasy with its tale of spiders, dissections, open graves and such. It takes place in an alternate reality where angels and demons wage war in our time. There are many scenes on the edge of gruesome horror. It is a novel not to be missed.

British author Tanith Lee writes many books in this sub-genre. The Secret Books of Paradys are set in a huge city like Paris but full of demons and other nasty creatures. The Blood Opera is about a woman who undergoes torture in a hidden mansion in this tale of vampires. Many of Ms. Lee's short stories are very dark and scary.

Christopher Golden is an author of several books in this subgenre. One of his frightening books is Wildwood Road. One Halloween eve, Michael is driving home from a party and nearly hits a little girl. She draws him to a house filled with mystery. In the weeks that follow, Michael's life is turned upside down with terror from the supernatural. This is one of the many suspenseful books from this author of dark stories.

The books discussed above are just a few of the many available in this subgenre. In this modern day of cynicism there are a lot of authors who are infusing their works with frightening images and darkness. Readers feeling a need for something different, can check out Dark Fantasy for a touch of horror and fright.


(1) Encyclopedia of Fantasy by John Clute and John Grant

Friday, March 10, 2006

Review: _The Myth Hunters_ by Christopher Golden

A man sits in the parlor of his home reading a book while a blizzard rages outside. He looks up to see a face of ice in the window. Glass shatters and the man finds himself pulled into a fight between rival supernatural creatures. The Myth Hunters by Christopher Golden is a Dark Fantasy tale with elements of myth mixed in it. An imaginative setting, gripping plot and memorable characters makes the book an exciting read.

The author creates an imaginative setting for the book. Maine, London and a Scottish island village are the prominent parts of the modern world where strange events occur. Mr. Golden juxtaposes this with his world of the Veil. That world is where all the magical beings retreated behind a magical barrier so they cannot mix with our world. Consisting of two kingdoms, the Veil world is inhabited by gods, mythical creatures, demons, humans, etc. A strong sense of reality is fostered by the author’s vivid descriptions.

Next, the author provides a gripping plot that creates a suspenseful book of adventure. On the eve of his wedding, Oliver Bascombe is having misgivings about his marriage when he meets Jack Frost. While helping the wounded ice man, they are attacked by the Falconer, a myth hunter from the Veil world. Frost takes Oliver across the Veil with him to save their lives. Oliver now finds himself in a world of magic where he is considered an intruder, subject to execution. He also finds out that Frost belongs to the Borderkind, beings able to cross the Veil border at will. Someone has set hunters on the Borderkind to eliminate all of them This plot is kept at a fast pace my Mr. Golden with tense action and dark elements.

Finally, the memorable characters in the book keeps it exciting. Oliver Bascombe wanted to be an actor but became a lawyer due to his overbearing father. His only comfort is his sister Collette. He finds himself in dangerous situations as he deals with the world of the Veil and trying to save his sister’s life. These events change him, causing Oliver to grow. The myth characters are memorable too. Kitsune the fox woman teaches Oliver wisdom and courage. Jack Frost inspires friendship by his loyalty to help Oliver despite wanting to stop the murders of his fellow Borderkind. The Sandman is a creepy, dark character who victimizes children in a horrible way. Mr. Golden creates strong characters with flaws that leaves them in readers’ memories after the book is finished.

The Myth Hunters by Christopher Golden is an entertaining Dark Fantasy. Suspense builds in the book through its imaginative setting, gripping plot and memorable characters, making the book an exciting read. First book of a trilogy, it will be followed by The Borderkind. Readers will be anxious for the continuation of the story. Hope we do not have long to wait.