Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CSFF Tour - Darkness Follows Day 3

Hey! You, web surfer! Yeah you.

C'mere for a sec.

See, I'm part of the Christian Sci-fi/Fantasy Tour, and we just talked about a cool and creepy book called Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso. I talked about it Monday with an overview, and Tuesday with a review.

I don't really want to talk about it today.

Not directly, at least.

Like I said, I'm in a book tour for Christian speculative fiction. There's cool people here that like interesting books. There's an interesting aspect of this month's tour I wanted to investigate.

The book was brought to us for a speculative angle - the protaganist in modern times finds pages from a Civil War officer's journal, in his own handwriting. The book is considered in the CBA realm as "supernatural suspense."

The thing is, the book is really a horror book.

It's not horrible. Hor-ror. It is scary and spooky [insert Addam's Family theme song here]. It has a purpose in its scare factor, but it definitely has the chills factor.

It seems the CBA industry is scared of labeling books as "horror." I don't mind that a speculative fiction tour is featuring this book, it is pretty good, and I'm glad I got to read it. I think it serves a certain type of reader, and does it without some of the hopelessness found in regular horror fiction.

I don't have all the insights in this quirk of the CBA. For a better authority, I'll refer you to Mike Duran on his posts concerning "Can Horror Fiction Be 'Redemptive'" (part 1, 2, 3) and a quick discussion on covers speaking about horror here, as well as Mike Dellosso's own words in this post.

Seemed like a good time to take on this idea of the label of "horror" vs. "supernatural suspense" to a group that enjoys speculative fiction. I've read CBA books ranging from a ghost story (Robin Parrish's Nightmare, labeled as "paranormal suspense") to vampires (Eric Wilson's Jerusalem Undead series) that would fit into a horror genre in a normal bookstore, but don't get promoted that way in the CBA.

Why is that?

I have my thoughts, but what say you, the well-read and clever folks of the CSFF Tour? Let me know what you think, and I'll answer back in a few days.
Uh, to get back on track, here's where you can find all of the other fine posts on Darkness Follows from my tourmates.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Anonymous4:23 PM

    Jason, again great thoughts and thanks for the great and thoughtful review. The CBA steers clear of the horror label because it just doesn't sell. Among Christians "horror" has too many negative connotations and it scares people (pun intended). Horror has its nich fans but to draw in those who enjoy straight-up thrillers or suspense is a daunting task. It's a shame because there're a lot of unbelieving folk out there who love horror who might just be interested in these kinds of stories.

  2. lol I love the way you write your post! Great post on this book Jason... thank you.
    God's care,

  3. I'm not one of your CSFF-ers, but here are my thoughts on the horror label. Horror immediately brings to mind Stephen King or "Freddie" films for most folks. And although I've been told there can be occasional redemptive themes in some of Stephen King's novels, generally it's all about violent evil (and violent doesn't always mean physically). The focus is on evil.

    I would guess this is the primary reason the label isn't used in CBA because they don't want their fare associated with anything that isn't ultimately redemptive. "Sales" is the excuse, I'm thinkin'.

    Horror is definitely more extreme in secular literature, but Mike Dellosso does it well in CBA. He always includes redemptive themes, contrasting the harshness of evil gone mad to heaven come visiting. Kudos for him for finding his niche.