So if you are like me and love the world building, and the hero’s journey/quest story that epic fantasy offers, but are tired of elves, dwarves, and orcs and would like to see epic fantasy with darker horror themes where do you go? That question not rhetorical, because I am genuinely asking. I am not quire sure.
So from what I have found, you are stuck with two major genres: dark fantasy and epic horror. Both, I believe, are lacking. So we’ll first examine dark fantasy.
Dark Fantasy is a genre of fiction that most readers have head of and is defined by wikipedia as: a subgenre of fantasy literary, artistic, and cinematic works that incorporate darker and frightening themes of fantasy. It also often combines fantasy with elements of horror or has a gloomy, dark (or grimdark) atmosphere, or a sense of horror and dread.
I would argue that definition is somewhat lacking. While some dark fantasy does incorportate horror themes, it seems now that it has become synonymous with grimdark fantasy, which (in a nutshell) speaks to the violent, dystopian, or amoral tone of the story. Think Game of Thrones or the novels of Joe Abercrombie. Why is that significant? Well if you are looking for horror themes in a fantasy book, or the epic hero’s journey style story with with monsters, demons, etc., searching dark fantasy on amazon will not be specific enough to get you there. So search epic horror? Maybe…
So what is epic horror? Well it’s an even less defined sub genre of horror that doesn’t even have its on amazon subcategory, but does have one on Goodreads. Think The Strain, or Stephen King’s The Stand. It’s basically a story set in a horror world, usually multiple books. That still leans a little heavy to the horror side, and makes the fantasy story elements ride shotgun.
Both of these genres are very broad and I don’t believe they will help you find a fantasy story in a horror world, which is what I have been looking for for a while. Stephen king’s The Dark Tower series is probably the closest to what I like to read, and in amazon it’s listed under several different categories, one of which is horror/dark fantasy.
So what do you search for on Amazon to find the type of book I describe above? So until amazon creates a niched down category of Dark Fantasy, or a new category entirely (I vote Epic Gothic Horror) search horror/dark fantasy. While it is broad, it seems to be the best Amazon category so far. Searching fantasy/dark fantasy seems to reveal more Grimdark novels.