Dark Fantasy for Your Inner Child

There’s something magical about childhood imagination. Something that certain writers can capture and drag us back into fuzzy memories of dark and twisted childish fears. A few years ago, Neil Gaiman brought these to me through his novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. And most recently, Silvia Moreno-Garcia with Mexican Gothic.

Neil Gaiman tells his story through a grown-up man who returns to his hometown and revisits his childhood memories as his younger self. The tale weaves between the realistic, fantastical, and outright magical. He relives dark, mystical memories from his past that push him into his present. In Mexican Gothic, the protagonist is a charismatic teenager sent to investigate a concerning letter from her newly married cousin. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s character soon finds herself in the clutches of a mystical mining town. Where she floats between dark nightmares and reality, trying to make sense of her haunting surroundings.

I wouldn’t call either of these books’ genres horror or even suspense. But something entirely of its own. Dark fantasy that stems from childhood imagination (or something like that, I haven’t nailed the genre name yet). But wow do I recommend both books. Children are so perceptive with these outlandish imaginations that make them expect wild and dark things at every turn. At some point, as adults, we learn to subdue these thoughts. To stop being afraid of the dark, to stop checking under our beds and closets for monsters. But what an indulging literary moment to entertain the idea that our childhood memories have more sinister truth than we are willing to accept. Or is this just childish?

Picture is Mexican Gothic book cover written by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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