Monday, October 10, 2011

“Supernatural Noir” is a Little Too Light On the “Noir”

Supernatural Noir edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse, 2011, 336pp.)

“Supernatural” and “Noir.” Not two genres you would normally put together—especially since one deals with witches and magic and the other deals almost exclusively with the detective story sub-genre. Put them together and you get Supernatural Noir, a collection of 16 stories that attempt to examine the human condition by placing their subjects in mysterious, fantastical, and quite often horrifying circumstances. The trouble is, each author interprets this new genre differently. All pieces contain noir to some degree, but the genres of the collection overall aren’t well balanced. Some stories lean more towards fantasy/horror, while others are so bare of these elements that you almost miss the required “supernatural” aspect. The best stories, in my opinion, are the ones that focus more on what makes these characters human than the fantasy/horror elements. Some in the collection do this quite well. Others are more intent on fleshing out plot-driven tales. It’s really up to the reader to decide who hit the nail on the head, and who missed completely. A word of warning: this is not for the casual fan of dark fantasy and horror. Some of the pieces are very strange, and more than a little morbid. Recommended for mature readers, as some pieces may contain adult themes.

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