Darkness Follows, Day 1: Horror as a Love Story?

CSFF Blog Tour

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m not a horror reader and looking over the description of Darkness Follows convinced me it was not my sort of tale. However, I know a number of people quite interested in Christian horror/supernatural thrillers, so rather than bow out of the tour, I plan take today and Wednesday to highlight several aspects of the book, the author, and the genre.

For those interested, here’s the book trailer:

If you’d like to give Mike’s work a try, he has a section on his website devoted to free downloads with sample chapters, short stories, and reflections/annotations on his books.

And last but not least, here’s the blurb provided to tour members:

Darkness Follows is suspenseful, mysterious, scary, even creepy, but after all is said and done, it’s a love story. It’s about Sam Travis, a man who thinks he’s losing his mind. He becomes more and more obsessed with a series of mysterious journal entries from a soldier of the Civil War, entries Sam himself has written unawares. The more obsessed he becomes with the entries the more he pushes away those who care about him most, his wife and daughter. Meanwhile, Sam is also being haunted by the memory of his late brother who died a terrible death. In the end, Sam will have to make a choice, give into the darkness that’s been following him, or accept the freedom that comes from the unconditional love of his daughter and, ultimately, the love of his Father.

When I reviewed this blurb, one element  stood out–dubbing a supernatural thriller/horror novel as a love story. I’m not sure where the decision came to make that analogy, but after I read it, I began to consider the way genre descriptions can shape expectations for a novel. When I hear the term love story, I don’t think of a romance novel, but I do expect some degree of emphasis on love, often romantic love.

It doesn’t sound like this book incorporates romance, but rather that it tackles the greatest love story–the one between God and man. I found it intriguing that they chose to highlight this aspect of the novel, above and beyond the “creepy” elements. It certainly caught my attention, as it suggests this is a multi-layered book. Yet I can’t help but wonder if throwing out terms like love story (which is often associated with the likes of Nicholas Sparks) could create genre expectations that may not be met. So I’m curious. When you read the back cover copy or online description of a novel, how much does it shape your expectations for the book?

For those of you who have read this novel, would you ever think to describe it as a love story?

For more discussion on Darkness Follows, visit the other tour stops:


Comments

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller
    June 20, 2011 - 5:25 pm · Reply

    No, I wouldn’t describe this as a love story. But I think the dedication, Forward, and author note at the back explain why it is referred to in this way. I have developed the habit of reading all those peripherals first, and in this case I think it served me well because I do think expectations affect my enjoyment of a book. If nothing else, I can evaluate whether or not the author accomplished his or her purpose. If the expectations I’ve built from the promotional info class with my reading experience, then I’ll probably think the author was aiming for something he didn’t achieve.

    Becky

    • Sarah Sawyer
      June 22, 2011 - 1:02 pm · Reply

      Becky, I also read most of the peripherals first (sometimes I wait on the author note, if it seems like it will give away key elements of the story). I appreciate hearing the author’s thoughts and vision for the book, and it often does shape my view of the story or enhance the reading.

      I have enjoyed books that have taken a very different path than the promotional info suggested, but it sometimes takes a while to readjust expectations.

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