Grimdark is a fantasy subgenre that is particularly dystopian, amoral, or violent. Its protagonists tend toward the conflicted antihero, and its worlds are often brutal and nihilistic. The writing also tends to be much grittier and realistic. A whimsical quest to get the magic doohickey this is not.
The slightly overwrought term is inspired by the tagline of the tabletop strategy game Warhammer 40,000: “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war.”
Weird fantasy has to leave me with a “That was great, but what the hell did I just read?” feeling. The books below all fit the bill. Continue reading
We like mystery because life is mysterious, and storytelling exists to help us figure out how to live. Mysteries help us figure out how to deal with the unending avalanche of unknowns in our own lives (probably not directly, unless you deal with dead bodies a lot).
Some say that mysteries are popular because people like puzzles. Well, I like a certain kind of mystery, but I’ve never been a puzzle person.
I like Raymond Chandler mysteries, the hard-boiled detective who fights to stay alive while prowling dark alleys and darker minds. Often, I don’t care that much about the final reveal of who the real criminal is. It’s the journey, the tortuous path that I like.
In fantasy especially, the who-dunnit can easily become a what-dunnit.
Sandman, © Vertigo Comics
There’s still a stigma to reading graphic novels. As a grown man, I wouldn’t do it in public. However, at home, I love them and I encourage my kid to read every one he gets his hands on.
At their best, graphic novels combine deep, thoughtful storytelling with real works of art. I’m glad to see that great comics are still being written and drawn (and inked and colored).
Apologies for the self-promotion, but my New-York-Times-bestselling wife and I wrote an audiobook and I’m pretty excited about it.
The Worst Warlock is a humorous fantasy narrated by excellent British actor Carey Mulligan.
It takes a deft hand to combine advanced technology and magic in a way that isn’t embarrassingly silly. These books do exactly that, or something close enough to earn a place on this list.