Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Doorway to Dilemma: Bewildering Tales of Dark Fantasy

Mike Ashley (ed)
British Library

“The events which I purpose detailing are of so extraordinary a character that I am quite prepared to meet with an unusual amount of incredulity and scorn…”
Welcome to the realm of Dark Fantasy, where the weird prevails and accounts of unanswerable dilemma find their home. Gathered within these pages are twisted yarns, encounters with logic-defying creatures and nightmarish fables certain to perplex and beguile.
So join us as we journey across the threshold, deep into the Library’s vaults where nineteen deliciously dark and totally dumbfounding stories await. These tales, plucked from long-lost literary magazines and anthologies spring to life again to embody this most mesmerising of genres.

 First things first, I'm going to say up front that I really hate the term 'Dark Fantasy'.  In the introduction here Ashley gives a brief rundown of the history of the term but I'm sorry but to me it just sounds like a euphemism for S&M porn of the various shades of grey variety.

Lord Dunsany
Beyond the dubious title what we have is a bit of an uninspiring collection of tales that fails to excite.  There are some fine tales in amongst and indeed one actual classic in Arthur Machen's 'The White People' but there are a couple of absolute stinkers too (that I'm not going to name).

Of those authors I know I must admit to being less than besotted with Lord Dunsany as most of what I've read has been a little too fabley for my tastes (I am open to recommendations that'll change my mind) and the H.G Wells tale here is very much of the same ilk.  I was though much taken by 'Fear' written by Wells' wife Catherine and Lucy Clifford's 'The New Mother' was a bit of fun even if again it fell into that pesky fable category.

Of the others I found very little of interest and it was all a bit of a slog that I had to intersperse with more engaging books in order to even finish it.  If however you have a more deeply developed love of a fable or a folktale then you may find more to love here, I wish I had because I've thoroughly enjoyed the others in this series and was looking forward to this one.

Buy it here - Doorway to Dilemma


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