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Thread: Horrific Fantasy?
November 30th, 2010, 11:47 AM #1
I'm a big horror fan and a big fantasy fan. I'm looking to add some books to my reading list that combine both genres.
I've read Weaveworld by Clive Barker and really loved it. The horror elements and the fantasy elements blend perfectly and I can think of few other fantasy monsters that disgusted me as much as The Magdalen and her brood.
I've added Imajica to my list, but have heard differing reports on that book. Any thoughts?
Honestly, I sometimes find Barker's style to be a little over-wrought. Sometimes it's poetry for the sake of poetry (and not very good poetry in my estimation). I really wish he'd stick to turning out a decent plot that takes advantage of his wickedly fertile imagination.
I've also tackled all of King's Dark Tower series, Eye of the Dragon (and most of his other books.) The Dark Tower is sublime at the beginning and generally degrades in quality with each book, the final book being the worst. The biggest downturn in quality occurs between books 4 and 5. Wizard and Glass is a decent stand-alone novel if you remove the subplots tying it into the series. Wolves of the Callah is a weak science-fiction potboiler. There's very little going on in that book.
Eyes of the Dragon is severely underrated and I wish he would have done more with that world, or at least played around more in similar settings.
My two cents on the stuff I've read that mashes up horror and fantasy. But I'm not just looking for stories that have fantasy trappings by horror authors. I'm looking for any kind of speculative fiction that gives you a chill, makes you uncomfortable, sick to your stomach, paranoid, terrified, horrified or generally feel that the world is doomed. That's the kind of stuff I like!
Let me know if you have any thoughts/suggestions...
November 30th, 2010, 11:57 AM #2
As an author who loves both genres I'll just chime in to say that my first novel, released by Puffin (Jan 6th 2011) straddles both, "Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf"
That's Dave Brendon's review of it ahead of release. Originally conceived as pure fantasy/horror its now a Young Adult novel, and the first in a series, but don't be put off by that tag. The horror there is very real and visceral and is born out of my love of Universal Studios Creature Features and werewolf movies as a kid. Again, though, wouldn't want you thinking this is a werewolf book - it's a therianthrope tale, featuring a wide cast of shapeshifters.
King's Dark Tower series is a great example, and there's a long history in fantasy writing of having scenes of great horror too, especially when writing for adults.
Anyhoo, there's definitely an audience out there for cross-genre novels, and I can only hope I'm tapping into it with my own tale. You can follow my progress as we near the release date on twitter (@CurtisJobling) and on my blog http://badablingthing.blogspot.com
November 30th, 2010, 12:02 PM #3
Not exactly a horror novel, but one of my favorites with a very dark setting full of strange and dangerous creatures:
Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer
November 30th, 2010, 01:22 PM #4
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- Sep 2005
I guess this depends on what you find horrific, and how you define 'fantasy.' My suggestions would be,
Neverworld by Neil Gaiman & The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes. All about the worlds submerged beneath London.
The Throne of Bones by Brian MacNaughton. Sword & Sorcery, sorta, with a lot of ghouls wandering around in it. Sword & Sorcery is one of the main types of fiction where fantasy and horror mingle.
Zothique by Clark Ashton Smith. A precursor of MacNaughton's work, but even better written. Both of these books consist of inter-related short stories detailing a period in which magic has returned to a dying earth.
Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn. Not for action-craving readers, this is a delicate but very strong collection of fantasy/ghost stories set in ancient Japan.
Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber. Precursor to urban fantasy, a man is haunted by ... something. Pulls from M. R. James ghost stories and H. P. Lovecraft stories of cities and how the supernatural or paranormal inhabit them.
I've been wondering if some of the books from Angry Robot might fit your wants.
As Curtis mentions, a lot of fantasy has horrific interludes, but aren't necessarily horrific from page one to the end. Right now I'm reading House of Windows by John Langan, which I'd consider a Leiber-esque melding of fantasy and horror, the background to the horrific happens so richly developed that I think it brings the novel into the realm of fantasy.
November 30th, 2010, 01:43 PM #5
Well, it's a fine line between dark fantasy and horror, and nobody knows where it is.
Some possible things to check out:
Barker's Galilee, if you haven't read that one yet, might be one of the ones of more appeal to you.
Robert R. McCammon -- technically a bestselling horror writer, but the books vary like Barker's. Me and Stephen King think he's a good writer. Usher's Passing, which plays off of Poe, is a dark fantasy story, not an end of the world one, but might serve. After disappearing for a bit, he is now doing a historical thriller series which isn't SFFH, but I definitely plan to check out at some point.
Since you liked parts of Dark Tower, you might want to try King's The Stand and his and Peter Straub's The Talisman.
Tanith Lee is the mistress of dark fantasy. I don't know that she's done a lot of end of the world stuff, but she's very good.
Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire is actually dark fantasy, is actually quite good, though not an end of the world story.
You might want to check out Michael Moorcock's Multiverse novels and stories, which were an inspiration for King on Dark Tower. His Elric stories, for which he's most famous, are also pretty dark, but I'm not sure they'd be considered horror dark.
Polish writer Andzej Sapkowski I've been told is very good.
I'd second Jeff Vandermeer, as long as you're okay with being in a different world, and add Alan Cambell's Scar Night series to that.
I don't really see Neil Gaiman as being dark, but some people do. You could try American Gods.
Sunglasses After Dark by Nancy A. Collins might serve.
Kathe Koja's early work is dark fantasy and horror, including the novel Skin.
There is a lot and I know I'm missing all the new ones, but hopefully others will be bringing out titles.
November 30th, 2010, 02:45 PM #6
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- Apr 2010
Currently I'm reading "The Etched City"(almost finished) so far it's a great fantasy book with horror elements, there were a lot of scenes that made me a bit terrified.
There was a scene when a young girl gives birth to a baby with a body of a crocodile and a human head.
Here are some reviews:
November 30th, 2010, 04:13 PM #7
When I read the topic my first thought was Clive Barker.
I think if you like Weaveworld you will also like Imajica, and you should also try some of his others - The Great and Secret Show, Everville and Galilee as KatG mentioned. His first novel, The Damnation Game, is also a good read but not as good as the others mentioned.
The Necroscope series by Brian Lumley has horror/fantasy elements are a great series.
November 30th, 2010, 04:44 PM #8
Nice topic, I'd love to find more books like this myself. I second The Etched City and Veniss Underground, the first being not only fantasy with some very grisly and surreal scenes, but also one of my favourite books of all time. I'm reading Veniss Underground right now, and think it's very good too.
I would also recommend:
Coraline by Neil Gaiman. About a little girl who goes into an alternate reality where she meets her "other" parents. In my opinion it is easily the creepiest book by him.
I know you're asking about books, but some of his Sandman comics are about the closest to thing horrific fantasy I can think of, so I would recommend those too.
The bloody chamber by Angela Carter is a collection of twisted, retold fairy tales. While not exactly scary, most of them are very dark and have a creepy, menacing feel to them. I especially like the vampire and werewolf stories. If this sounds good, you might also like Red as blood By Tanith Lee, which I haven't read, but understand to be a similar thing.
The San Veneficio Canon by Michael Cisco takes place in an alternate reality where a reanimated "divinity student" is sent on an obscure quest to search the minds of corpses for lost words. It's in a similar vein to Veniss Undergound and The Etched City, and has plenty of dark and morbid weirdness going on. I love it, and recommend it highly.
I think Jeffrey Ford would be worth a try too, although I haven't been able to get a hold of any of his books yet. Letters from Hades sounds awesome, but unfortunately it seems to be out of print.
November 30th, 2010, 05:00 PM #9
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- Mar 2009
- Melbourne, Australia
I'm going to second Westsiyeed, if you liked Weaveworld, then you will also enjoy Imajica. I personally prefer Weaveworld, but there's not much between the 2. You may find it a little light, but Raymond Feist's Faerie Tale is also a good read along those lines.
December 1st, 2010, 12:45 AM #10
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- Dec 2009
December 1st, 2010, 05:14 AM #11
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- Apr 2010
I also second Clark Ashton Smith.
I also heard a lot of good things about Something Wicked This Way Comes, I have it on my shelf and plan to read it some time soon.
December 1st, 2010, 10:50 AM #12
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- Sep 2005
I can't believe I didn't include Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories and Coraline.
Well, that gives me the chance to second them.
December 1st, 2010, 12:32 PM #13
Ah yes! I'm well acquainted with Ray Bradbury but I much prefer his (very soft!) science fiction to Something Wicked This Way Comes.
I've also dipped into Moorcock's Elric, which I totally loved. Not sure I'd consider it to have horror elements. A very dark & exciting take on the fantasy genre, though. Opened up so many possibilities for subsequent writers (who have copied him like mad).
I've sampled Clark Ashton Smith. I've read stories by him in a few Cthulhu Mythos collections. Does he have a good story in the Zothique cycle that is can't miss? I felt like his writing just wasn't on par with some of his contemporaries like Lovecraft or Howard. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a mad fever dream as much as the next guy, but give me a teensy bit of plot!
I've put Veniss Underground, The Bloody Chamber and The Etched City on my list and I'll definitely give Imajica a shot. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I'm going to keep the thread going and post any other finds I make along these lines...
December 1st, 2010, 01:46 PM #14
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- Jan 2005
Speaking of Howard, Worms of the Earth always comes to mind as the perfect blending of fantasy and horror.
December 1st, 2010, 03:39 PM #15
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- Sep 2005
I would say much the same about Hearn's Kwaidan, Carter's The Bloody Chamber ... and MacNaughton's The Throne of Bones -- the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.