L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami April 15, 2014 - 5:11pm

What is the difference between horror and say dark fantasy? I wouldn't ordinarily think of traditional fantasy as horror, no matter how many energy sucking vampires you put in it. But then a work that's obviously fantasy that has some of the tropes of horror, is different from say a regular (by that I mean not dark) quest fantasy.

Are there any books (other than King) to start with?

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers April 15, 2014 - 7:37pm

The difference has to do with setting. Horror is a reaction, and can happen in any setting, so the Horror genre is defined by how a character responds to a horrific situation, typically in a very normal world. Dark fantasy is characters set in a much different world than ours, and the horror comes when they are faced with that environment and the people/creatures that dwell within it. Clive Barker balances both genres rather effectively, especially Weaveworld, and Imajica, which are Dark Fantasy novels, and The Damnation Game, which is Horror. There's a lot of overlap, Cabal for example, but again, it's setting for the most part.

 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated April 16, 2014 - 12:57am

I think the quick and dirty version is that dark fantasy is a hybrid of horror and fantasy.  

Grigori Black's picture
Grigori Black from US is reading Radium Girls by Amanda Gowin April 16, 2014 - 7:09am

Yeah, I'd have to tentatively agree with Dwayne it can be a mash up of the two.

To me, horror is a broader genre. It may, or may not include supernatural/magical/etc. elements. Dark fantasy can be a niche of horror I suppose.

Dark fantasy to me, is typically more of a dystopian fantasy setting. It almost has a noir feeling as opposed to horror.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami April 16, 2014 - 3:40pm

Interesting! Thanks. That's what I've read too.

That makes me wonder about Game Of Thrones though, though I've always heard that referred to as epic fantasy. I'll check it out.

I'd like dystopia, except for certain factors.XD (More because every other book over the past year has been nothing but dystopia -- fantasy or SF.)

.'s picture
. April 16, 2014 - 4:15pm

Here is a site that lists fantasy subgenres. 

http://bestfantasybooks.com/dark-fantasy.html

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies April 16, 2014 - 8:49pm

yeah, for me dark fantasy vs. horror is the inclusion of the supernatural. there's this of course:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_fantasy

a lot of horror is reality based, so anything that is surreal, or plays with reality, anything not easily explainable in the normal laws and rules of society, could be dark fantasy. obviously, "dark" can be interpreted as anything from tragic to horrific to post-apocalyptic.

i'd say GoT was a dark, epic fantasy, if that helps. to me, "epic" applies to the SCOPE or SCALE of it. that's one sprawing narrative, yeah? (more than one book, over many years, lots of history with a large universe).

Grigori Black's picture
Grigori Black from US is reading Radium Girls by Amanda Gowin April 16, 2014 - 9:45pm

Yeah, I'd agree with Game of Thrones being dark fantasy. The scope is definitely epic. The world feels huge and even minor characters seem to have a life of their own. As far as scope, I think it's second only to the LoTR books. I can't think of anything else I've read that captures that feeling.

Most fantasy series I've read don't manage to achieve it. A good example (to me) would be the Mistborn Trilogy. It's a good read, but everything about it comes down to a personal conflict. The sword of truth series had its moments, but came down to the same thing. Something was missing to nudge it into the same category as GoT or LoTR.

As far as Dark Fantasy, the first thing that really comes to mind is the Black Company series by Glen Cook.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated April 17, 2014 - 5:05am

@Sarah - I'd say that Game Of Thrones is more gritty fantasy; the problems and plot lines owe a bit more to unflinching realism.  It is also epic, with the scope of save the kingdom and all the quests people go on.

@Grigori Black - Haven't seen you on here in forever, welcome back/sorry I missed you if you've been around.  I'd say that yeah the Black Company are very much dark fantasy, they fight the monster none can understand with monster several times. 

Grigori Black's picture
Grigori Black from US is reading Radium Girls by Amanda Gowin April 17, 2014 - 6:10am

No worries Dwayne. I just came back yesterday. I finally got everything sorted out (more or less) and I'm back into writing again. I've been hitting up the workshop and reading through the various submissions. Some interesting stuff. 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami April 17, 2014 - 10:01pm

Would Dracula technically count? Back in those days there was less of a seperation between science fiction and fantasy.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer April 18, 2014 - 3:58am

Dracula was essentially urban fantasy's predecessor.

I think that if you really get down to it, horror is less of a genre and more of a tone that can emcompass several genres, including dark fantasy and psychological suspense. The supernatural is sometimes present, sometimes not, but the tone is always there. For me, dark fantasy has always been the use of the supernatural with horrorific tones.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated April 18, 2014 - 4:48am

I'd say Dracula was a techno thriller. Not just saying the link is proof, just that is sums up my view fairly well.

http://nomoreworkhorse.com/2013/10/16/kim-newman-interview-bram-stoker-festival-preview/

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer April 18, 2014 - 12:47pm

There is a lot of technology in Dracula, and a lot of criticism has been done about the effect of early film technology upon the book.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami April 18, 2014 - 1:06pm

So psychological horror is theoretically possible then?

Thats what always messed me up when I used to write it.

That sounds absolutely awesome.XD

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated April 18, 2014 - 2:06pm

@Jack - I thought it was more the effect film had on people's reception to the book, how the movie adaptations kept the book going popular long after it might otherwise have died out into obscurity. 

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff April 23, 2014 - 4:26pm

I've always considered Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker to be Dark Fantasy writers. A lot of Urban Fantasy (Richard Kadrey, Jim Butcher) might be considered Dark Fantasy too.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby April 23, 2014 - 11:08pm

@Sarah: psychological horror is possible, of course! The Keep, Paul Wilson author, I think, film had Scott Glenn as antihero... Ages ago. um, 25 years maybe?

@Dwayne - get thee hence from the film projection! The book is different, as I know you know, from the film; Mary Shelley's monster is so different from what is portrayed in countless movies that it is a farce and bears no resemblance to what she was trying to say (I'll forgive the opium influence she & Percy & Lord B. were under when she came up with this--hers was the best of the 3!!).

When you read the words, weren't you chilled to the bone? (Dracula--the original) And there were other, deeper ethical questions in these works; those questions touched me to the bone. 

Hitchcock was the best (imho) at psychological horror onscreen, and it was because he let your mind create your horror.There's no substitute for the individual mind's imagination. He was a master of presenting moral choices that his characters had to make, and the consequences (many times unintended!) of them, bad and/or good.

I wonder if we've lost the ability to infer a greater truth from what we're reading/seeing. Maybe we are not expecting  enough from our readers.  Oh, stagehand, here's your soapbox back! -- end of preaching; sorry!

 

 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated April 24, 2014 - 7:15am

I'm not saying that early film had no effect on them or that they are the same, but they had way more effect on early film.  It had deeper questions, but they weren't needed to see the basic story.  It seems like we have went to far the other direction; it seems that everyone puts tons of things to infer in.  Readers miss things, and the more you throw at them the more they'll miss.  If you throw a few big things people will probably get them; if you throw a huge number of things they way modern authors do they'll miss some. Which is funny, I was just talking about this on the other thread.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby April 24, 2014 - 1:51pm

Good point Dwayne. I do think nowadays people have shorter attention spans. Technology has an effect on us too.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated April 24, 2014 - 2:12pm

I don't see evidence of that.  This is the age of obsession.  

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami April 25, 2014 - 6:16pm

I may have to check out some Urban Fantasy then. I may just be irrationally leery about Urban Fantasy that's particularly marketed as YA. Just because of the association with paranormal romance. (Which actually isn't even bad in itself.)

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal April 25, 2014 - 7:04pm

@ Dwayne-

Just to check if you see any evidence, how many tabs are open in your browser right now?  And how many have you looked at in the past few mintutes?

Because I'm at 12 tabs, 5 of which I've clicked very recently (low for me), three more of which I'm about to (that's mroe like it), and I have music playing...  And I'm still kind of bored.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby April 25, 2014 - 8:18pm

@Sarah.. YA Fantasy is not what what I would have expected like, 10 years ago, for my preteen, teenager? It is a little racy, in many ways.

@Thuggish--I'm with you, kiddo. That's what I'm talking about.

Although, I have a question: Could you answer a complicated question, say math, or chemistry, or a complicated moral or ethic question, with clarity? I'm in no way dissing your abilities to handle any of this; I just know from my experience I am limited; I can't text and drive at the same time-- I drive a manual transmission red BMW 330i that is pretty sweet; hugs those curves, gets way ahead of me sometimes speedwise..  oh, um sorry. I really like driving my car! (It may be a Southern thing for chicks) But hard to handle a phone call, much less texting, with a shift.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated April 26, 2014 - 3:47am

@Jack - I've been thinking about what you said, that horror isn't a genre but a feeling.  I think that it might be better described as a genre based on feeling, similar to romance.  Most/many of the mashups are based on the feeling instead of what the horror genre uses to generate it (monsters), but not all.

@Sarah - I think that YA doesn't really relate to it being Urban Fantasy.  I've seen horror YA and romance YA and blahblahblah.  I think YA is just a target audience, not a genre. 

@Thuggish - 2 that I'm doing stuff with, 4 I plan to mess with later.

You misunderstand me.  I'm not saying that people don't have short attention spans.  I'm saying that I've not seen evidence people had long ones before tech took off.

But how many people you know who've watched every episode of Dr. Who, read every issue of Buffy Season Eight, or some other sort of crazy dedication to some story or sports team or whatever?  For me the number is high.

@Justwords - Lexington is the worst place in America to drive, we get a lot of that too.  And just plan old crazy.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer April 30, 2014 - 8:12am

"@Jack - I thought it was more the effect film had on people's reception to the book, how the movie adaptations kept the book going popular long after it might otherwise have died out into obscurity."

There is a lot of work done on the adaptations, as well. Which is part of what makes it so difficult to be a Dracula scholar. You have to immediately identify what version of Dracula is being discussed. I've seen actual professional criticism that seemed to have lapses between what is in the book and what was a function of film.

What I was actually referring to is Stoker's use of technology in the book: typewriters, phonographs, etc., and the theory among some critics that early filmwork was a source of some of the vampire imagery.

I think horror is definitely a genre based on feeling. For example, I just read Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs by Irvine Welsh. The scenario is a guy who experiences all the pain and punishment for what happens to someone else. That could be a very horrorific scenario, but Welsh treats it with his normal absurdity, and the book is without a doubt not a horror novel. That being said, the way the character is physically transformed reminded me of Stephen King's Thinner, which is absolutely a horror novel. The difference is not the content, but the feeling, or tone as I referred to it.

That's why I think you can have so many subgenres of horror that are essentially other genres. Jack Ketchum definitely writes horror, but other than She Wakes, there isn't a supernatural element to be seen. Stephen King crosses back and forth between supernatural and psychological horror. Peter Straub writes mostly supernatural stuff. Ramsey Campbell writes quiet suggestive scenes, while Brian Keene writes in a way that you sometimes feel covered in blood and guts just by proximity. The only similarity is the feeling of horror they seek to produce. Which is why my urban fantasy novelist friend and I can write similar scenarios and end up in totally separate sections of the bookstore.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami April 30, 2014 - 9:22am

Oh my apologies, yes I know it's target audience.

Another one of those me leaving out information for the reader I guess. I meant YA target audience and Dark Fantasy.