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Topic: 2012 Fantasy Challenge -- Dark Fantasy & Horror Discussion

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Subject: 2012 Fantasy Challenge -- Dark Fantasy & Horror Discussion
Date Posted: 12/1/2011 4:25 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Please post all your discussion of books filling this category in this thread.

 

Some Useful Definitions

Dark Fantasy/Horror: Horror novels are novels which are intended to, or have the capacity to frighten their readers, inducing feelings of horror and terror. They create an eerie atmosphere. Dark Fantasy novels are Fantasy novels with a pronounced Horror element.

Gothic novel: A novel that combines elements of both horror and romance. The effect of Gothic novels feeds on a pleasing sort of terror, an extension of the Romantic literary movement which validated strong emotions such as trepidation, terror and awe—especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities. It usually has a strong sense of place and a focus on the supernatural.
Weird Western: A novel that combines elements of the Western with horror, occult, or fantasy.
The Cthulhu mythos: The Cthulhu Mythos is a shared fictional universe, based on the work of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.

 

Additional Resources

Lists of the Bram Stoker Award Winners can be found here:
-Best Novel
-Best First Novel
-Best Fiction Collection
-Best Anthology

 

LISTS ONLY thread can be found here.



Last Edited on: 12/1/11 4:41 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Davies -
Date Posted: 12/1/2011 11:13 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
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The new Brandon Sanderson novel, Alloy of Law, would definitely fall into the Weird Western category.  The main hero is a sheriff from a border town, assisted by his comic relief deputy.  It is set in the same universe as his Mistborn books, but it is the begining of a new cycle set hundreds of years after the originals (Wild West vs Middle Ages).  The magic in the Mistborn books is based on controlling metal, and Sanderson came up with a lot of new ways for these more modern characters to interact with the metal in their environment (guns, bullets, and the ability to make more sophisticated alloys); it is not just a rehash of the old Mistborn stuff. 



Last Edited on: 12/1/11 1:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/4/2011 6:14 PM ET
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Thankee sai! I was just wondering where I could find a Wierd Western that wasn't the Dark Tower. I can think of two Fantasy Westerns that aren't really Wierd, but I guess would still count. Mad Amos (a collection of shorts) by Alan Dean Foster isn't all that well known but is a lot of fun. The Tales of Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card are turning out to be quite good. I'm mostly through the second in the series despite the fact that I'm supposed to be finishing of the SF regular challenge. As you can tell, I'm enjoying the series immensely. Of course I'm a sucker for Fantasy Westerns as it is. If anyone has any other recommendations, I'll eat them like candy. Hm, any Western Horror out there...?

I think I have some of the Mistborn prematurely packed away...looks like I may be digging them back out. :P



Last Edited on: 12/4/11 6:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/5/2011 8:04 AM ET
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Another weird western suggestion would be Felix Gilman's The Half-made World -- It's a steampunk western, slightly distopian too.  I really enjoyed it. 

And I hadn't thought of The Gunslinger as a weird western, though that seems perfectly obvious now.

Subject: Weird Western
Date Posted: 12/30/2011 5:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2008
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Thought I'd mention two books I read in 2008 by Bruce Boxleitner that would fall into our Weird Western category...

Book #1 Frontier Earth

Book #2 Frontier Earth: Searcher (Frontier Earth)

My rating for these were 3 stars...average... but actually in retrospect I think they were innovative and pretty good.

Cheers!

Subject: Fantasy written by Horror author
Date Posted: 12/31/2011 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2008
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Hi all, thought I'd let you know about "Eyes of the Dragon" by Stephen King. I read it last year and gave it 3-1/2 stars. Oh, and yesterday when I was looking for a book from a high school reading list I actually found this title on one. That surprised me. Happy New Year!

Date Posted: 1/23/2012 10:00 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Two dark fantasy/horror reads for me this week.

The first is Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.  It was written in the late 50's and is the story of a professor and a few assistants who decide to live in a "haunted" house for the summer to see if they can gather evidence for or against hauntings in general and for that house in particular.  Jackson plays a lot with psychology and never confirms or denies whether the home is haunted and the book feeds mostly off the the characters' own fears rather than action.  That's an approach I really like.  I'm using this for a ghost story, but it also fits a gothic novel or a novel that has won/was nominated for the Booker Prize or National Book Award.

The second is Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked this Way Comes.  It's the story of two boys living in a small town and the creepy carnival that appears shortly before Halloween.  The Illustrated Man from the collection of the same name is one of the bad guys.  I liked it a lot, but didn't love it -- maybe if I'd read it nearer to Halloween or during a thunderstorm rather than on a sunny park bench, that would have changed it from "like" to "love."  Though, I usually don't like Bradbury's novels, so maybe not.  He tends to get bogged down in long expository segments that IMO just aren't needed.  I usually love his shorter stories where he doesn't have time/space to get long winded.

Date Posted: 3/10/2012 1:13 PM ET
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Two more reads:

Stephen King's The Gunslinger:  Perhaps my expectations were too high since I've heard so much about it but I wasn't impressed.  It has that "'80's" feel to it (makes sense, that's it's publication date!) and that probably played a large role in my apathy.  I've been told the series does get better as it progresses, so I'll read the next book eventually.  I'm using this for a "fantasy novel by a horror author", but it also fits for "Weird Western".

Steven Sherrill's The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: I'm using this for the "novel narrated by (or told from the perspective of) a monster" category.  This is somewhat like Gaiman's American Gods in that it has gods wandering around America.  But the Minotaur isn't trying to gain followers -- he's just trying to cope with the mundanity of modern life in a world that no longer cares about him one way or the other. 

The Minotaur isn't particularly monstrous here.  There are flashbacks to his days in the Labyrinth eating warriors and virgins but he's grown rather apathetic with the passage of centuries.  Sherrill uses him as a stand-in for the concept of "The Other" -- someone who will never, and can never fit in to society.  Not the most original idea, sort of surreal and not much plot but I liked it.

Date Posted: 3/10/2012 7:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
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I've always felt that The Haunting of Hill House is one of the great classic ghost stories.  If you haven't had the chance to read it yet, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is another extremely good book by Shirley Jackson. 

I've read the Gunslinger series by King and liked the first few but found the series fell apart about 3/4 of the way thru.  His attempts to create a self referential meta universe of his work was REALLY annoying.

Date Posted: 3/11/2012 1:41 AM ET
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Melanti: Did you read the original version of The Gunslinger, or the revised edition King put out later?

Date Posted: 3/11/2012 10:26 PM ET
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PhoenixFalls:  I didn't know there was a revised edition.  What was changed?  I assume that I have the original version.  The latest copyright date listed is 1989 and the afterword talks about being in the middle of writing book 2 and estimates needing around 300 years to finish the series.

Lisa:  This is the first novel by her that I've read but I really liked it.  I'll keep an eye out for We Have Always Lived in the Castle.



Last Edited on: 3/11/12 10:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/12/2012 12:20 AM ET
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Yeah, after. . . um, I think after his car accident? in any case, as King was working on finishing the series he went back and did an author's preferred edition to, IIRC, bring the first book more in line with the tone of the later books and to retcon some stuff that he had established about the world later on. I actually loved the first book best partly because it *did* sound so different from all the later books -- I liked how spare the prose was, and the way nothing was ever explained -- so I never went back and read the revised edition, being reasonably certain that I would like it less.

Are you a King fan otherwise? 'Cause if you are, you might prefer the revised edition. . . from what I hear I think it feels more like the rest of his books. (Not that I'm necessarily saying read the book all over again when you didn't much like it the first time! But if you do decide to continue the series and then end up liking the rest of it more, it might be worth circling back and checking out the revision. *grin*)

Date Posted: 3/12/2012 2:49 AM ET
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I have no idea whether I'm a Stephen King fan.  I've only read this book and about fifteen pages worth of The Green Mile.

As far as movie adaptations, I've seen Shawshank Redemption (liked it), most of It (kind of cheesy), some of The Langoleers (silly), and the first five to ten minutes of The Stand at least a dozen times (I get bored and turn it off).  Oh, yes. And that one X-Files episode that I detested.

One full movie and one full book isn't much to base any judgement on but  I've always had this perception of King as a slasher/gory style horror writer which is why I've avoided him until now.  I'll take psychologcal horror over blood and guts any day.

Date Posted: 3/12/2012 4:16 AM ET
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Now, I haven't read much more King than you. . . just the Dark Tower series (which, granted, is seven books) and Lisey's Story. (Oh and On Writing, but that's nonfiction) But I had totally the opposite idea of what kind of horror he writes! I have seen more of the movies -- The Shining and Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption and Secret Window and 1408 plus I am familiar with the plots of Misery and Carrie -- but I totally think of him as psychological horror. Plus the thing I admire about him (again, based on my limited experience) is the way he keeps his stories so rooted in the minutiae of daily life. . . in the books and movies I know there're always all these little moments of recognition, where I think "Oh! I know that!" which is a pretty cool thing, I think. It's one of the reasons even though I'm *not* a horror fan I do plan on reading more by him. . . probably The Stand (though I can't decide there whether to read the original or his revised version first).

Date Posted: 3/12/2012 6:11 PM ET
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My opinion is probably way off since it's formed from watching the trailers of his movies and the fact that it's mostly my blood & guts loving friends who rave about his movies.

I do want to try something else by him though.   I used to see tons of his books on the clearance rack at the local used book store, but of course I haven't seen a single one there since I decided to give him a shot.

Date Posted: 3/12/2012 6:26 PM ET
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The Stand is very long but also very, very good.  I've only read the unedited version but I've heard it's better than the first version.  Misery is a excellent psychological thriller.  The Shining is very creepy.  I'm reading Bag of Bones now, it seems to be a very good classic ghost story.

Date Posted: 3/13/2012 11:20 AM ET
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I have only read a very few of his books because they are so rooted in everyday life they creep me out.  Misery is exactly like that.  Also Thinner.  And my personal favorite, The Running Man.  :)

Date Posted: 3/27/2012 4:56 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Dark Fantasy & Horror
1. Read a fantasy novel by a horror author.
2. Read a horror novel by a fantasy author - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, 4 stars.  A little dark but very good. It's magic coupled with two egotist magicians who control the destiny of the night circus through two young talented magicians who fall in love, Marco and Celia.  They are in competition - a competition which can end only when one of the magicians is defeated by death.  An orphan, Marco was adopted by the man in the grey suit, Alexander.  Celia's father is the famous magician Prospero who is known far and wide.  Le Cirque de Reves, The Circus of Dreams, which opens at dark is the stage.  the author creates such a magical imagery for this fanciful story that you feel as if you are walking among those viewing the circus and its wonderful acts.  Some die as a result of the competition but the love  between Marco and Celia creates such atmosphere that I was sorry to see the last pages of this first time effort by a talented young author.   
3. Read a high fantasy novel about an anti-hero - Weaveworld by Clive Barker, 8/2/2012, 4.5 stars.  A most exciting read with considerable action that kept me reading as fast as I could.  Imagine if you can a magical world where almost anything is possible.  The seerkind, people who have special powers to create illusions known as raptures, are hiding from the kingdom (real world) with the web of a woven carpet.  A rogue seerkind wants to see all other seerkind dead and the world destroyed.  She forms a pact with a cuckoo (human) salesman to accomplish her goals.  In the first half of the book she is a dreaded enemy.  The salesman, Shadwell, becomes enamoured of the carpet when he views the world within and strives to become its king, killing any who stand in his way.  When his attempt to become a god fails he decides the seerkind are at fault and travels to find the Scourge dreaded by the seerkind because it almost killed all of them once before.  Cal and Suzanna. part seerkind, go from one adventure to another to save the world and its inhabitants.  I loved the read but thought that the end was a little weak. 
4. Read a Gothic novel - The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, 3/27/2012, 4 stars.  I quite enjoyed this dark novel.  It is indeed strange at times.  This is the story of a man who loves to write but who is unable to write an outstanding novel.  He moves into a house that has always appealed to him, huge, dark and with towers.  It has a rather forbidding look and feel but David Martin likes it.  Here he begins to write a novel for himself while rewriting the novel of a wealthy friend who has been working on his for many years.  The novel he writes for his friend receives many accolades while the one he does for himself is only ridiculed by critics.  Saddened, he turns to his bookshop friend, who believes in him and  his work.  Then he is contacted by a strange man who wears an angel pin on his lapel.  The stranger offers him a large sum of money to write a novel about a new religion but he must tell no one nor can his name be attached to it.  He begins to write the novel and tragic events occur in his life with himself, his acquaintances,  and his friends.  Some die tragically.  The story becomes stranger and stranger and darker as one turns the pages.  I did not know where the novel was headed but the ending is quite unexpected and I liked it.  I recommend it to those who like dark reading.
5. Read a Weird Western -The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson, 5/112012, 3 stars.  Having read and loved the Mistborn trilogy, I was excited when I saw this one. It's a quick read but a slow starter. Nevertheless, I really liked the protagonist, Wax or Waxillium. He's brave, ethical and a courageous if a foolish risk taker at times. His sidekick, Wayne, is funny and dedicated to his friend. Miles Hundredlives is a good character and I would like to see more of him. He is probably one of the best characters in the novel. I kept wondering how he really became who he was and what his past might have been. The ending was predictable and certainly leaves room for a sequel. Do hope that the author spends more time developing that one. Lovers of the Mistborn series like me know how well this author can write. Yes, I would read the sequel and I just know that it will be much better.
6. Read a ghost story.
7. Read a comedic horror novel.
8. Read a novel narrated by (or told from the perspective of) a monsterFirelight by Sophie Jordan (Heroine is a draki, descendant of dragons), 4/17/2012, 4 stars.  Jordan has written many historical romances but this is her first venture into YA writing.  Under the name of Sharie Kohler, she writes paranormal romances.  Firelight is a respectable debut and an interesting story.  Jacinda is a fire draki, the first to be born to her pride in hunddreds of years.  Because her kind is so rare, the pride wants to keep her and bond her with the prince of the pride who will someday rule it.  However, their intent is to clip her wings so she cannot fly.  Knowing this her mother flees with Jacinda and her twin sister, Tamra, a human, to live in Chaparrel, a desert community, hoping that Jacinda can deny her draki heritage and they can lead a normal human life.  Unfortunately, Jacinda falls in love with a human, Will, who she discovers has draki blood.  When she manifest in front of Will's cousin, a draki hunter, she knows that she and her family must leave this small community and Will behind.  The ending almost assures that there will be a sequel.  I think that the YA group will enjoy this novel.  It's well done.
9. Read something in the Cthulhu mythos.
10. Read a Bram Stoker Award Winner - Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury, a collection of 22 hauntings and celebrations, 7/31/2012, 4 stars.  Took time to read two books by Bradbury.  Dandelion Wine is an absolutely wonderful read.  If I could give more than five stars I would.  Midnight is a collection of short stories which are so entertaining.  



Last Edited on: 8/2/12 9:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 16
Date Posted: 4/24/2012 11:49 AM ET
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Bah.  I just finished The Shining yesterday and I'm mad.  The "it wasn't his fault, it was the hotel" attitude the wife had was such a cop out.  Granted, "it's not his fault" is a classic defense of an abused spouse and it seems to me that Jack was borderline emotionally abusive even before they got to the hotel but King left that whole issue unexplored -- almost as if he didn't even realize it WAS an issue.

The only ending in recent memory that's made me madder was the one where the main character woke up from a coma and realized she'd dreamed the whole book.

It'll be quite awhile before I bother with King again.

 

Date Posted: 6/21/2012 12:13 AM ET
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Lisa - thanks so much for recommending We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  I loved it!

Date Posted: 10/1/2012 10:11 PM ET
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I'm having trouble with the comedic horror category.

I'd planned to read John Dies at the End, but despite it coming highly recommended, I couldn't even finish the first chapter.  Then, a different friend recommended Pandemonium which turned out to be wonderful but, other than a few quips, not comedic.  (Turns out he was recommending a MOVIE, not the book.)  I had a 3rd possibility lined up with Scott Nicholson - but now I can't remember which of the books it was, and he's written dozens.

So, does anyone want to take a shot at recommending something for me?  I'm picky - I'm not a fan of Terry Pratchet or Christopher Moore, and I prefer satire and sarcasm over puns and parodies.

Date Posted: 10/6/2012 4:35 PM ET
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I found the Nicholson book I was thinking of, but ended up not liking it much either.  Since it's so quiet over here, I asked about "comic horror" on Goodreads and they recommended a book I already owned.

I ended up with Draculas: A Novel of Terror.  It's one that I can easily see being made into a straight-to-dvd movie with bad special effects and bad acting.  One of the so-bad-it's-good type movies.  The book is slightly campy and VERY gory. I think the authors must have been competing with each other to come up with the most ridiculous and bloody scene in the book.  It's not something I'd want to read very often but was fun.  Who can argue with chainsaw wielding vampire clowns?

For a horror book from a fantasy author, I picked Elizabeth Hand's Waking the Moon.  It's part gothic horror, part mythology, part coming-of-age, part twisted romance.  Very dark and lush.  The first third is a bit slow but after that it's wonderful ... all the way up to the ending which I had a couple issues with.

My anti-hero book was Swords in the Mist (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Bk 3) - which is an 60's era swords & sorcery series about a pair of thieves.  Not much substance to the series - they're sort of like fantasy cotton candy.

That wraps up the "Dark Fantasy & Horror" category for me.  I might try to come back and replace the Fafhrd story with something a bit darker, but overall I'm happy with my selections.  My least favorite was King's The Shining, and my most favorite was Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

 



Last Edited on: 10/6/12 4:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1