Image Credit: The Bridge by Gate-to-Nowhere
Dun dun duuuuunnnn!
A RECIPE FOR DARK FANTASY
- Stories told from a monster’s point of view.
- Supernatural or elements of the unexplained or unknown.
- Less focus on victim/suffering (as in horror) and more focus on inner struggle of the monster/beast/demon/hell-spawn/mutant-swamp-beastie-pony.
- Horror elements in a fantasy environment rather than a “real” environment. So a serial killer on earth would be horror but a serial killer on Middle-Earth would be dark fantasy (and completely awesome!)
- Anti-heroic or morally ambiguous protagonists (think Michael Moorcock’s Elric, Karl Wagner’s Kane or Pat Buchanan)
- A darker, grittier feel to the writing rather than heroic or epic in scope.
A SPECTRUM OF DARK FANTASY
The genre can span between more horror-based story-lines (Cliver Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, Glen Duncan, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro) or more fantasy-based (Anne Bishop, Brent Weeks, Glen Cook, Kim Harrison, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series). In the horror-based variety the narrator or perspective derives from what would classically be considered the beastie. In the fantasy-based variety, the perspective may be from a flawed hero or a mixed, alternating narrative from protaganist/antagonist, hero/monster or hunter/hunted.
Even more confusing is the fact that many epic tales may contain chapters or sections that delve very deep into the dark fantasy realm without turning the entire book over to the dark side.
ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES (hover over for titles):
Image Credit: Gothic Art and Drawings by Laurie Lipton