Harry Potter as horror novel
Hat tip to 42 for emailing me this link. I haven't picked up my copy yet of the latest J.K. Rowling novel. It'll probably be a beach book like The Historian. From The Boston Globe:
All the same, there has been a sea-change over the past few Potter books, beginning with the opening scene of the fourth, ''Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." It is the difference between fantasy, which was the territory of the first, second, and most of the third books, and horror, the new territory now entered in earnest. It is hard to pinpoint the exact differences between fantasy and horror, of course, and, like any other genre, there are blendings that make that distinction still more difficult. But by and large I would say that fantasy creates an alternate universe, complete with its own rules and magical beings. The struggle in fantasy is between large forces of good and evil, such as we encounter in J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Horror fiction is darker, bloodier, more gory, and less rational. It is, in fact, the landscape of bad dreams, as in: ''There was no waking from his nightmare, no comforting whisper in the dark that he was safe really, that it was all in his imagination . . . he was more alone than he had ever been before." One can argue endlessly whether horror fiction is good or bad for the young soul -- surely, it is not coincidental that a blurb from Stephen King is featured on the book's flap. But I'm not sure that horror will nourish those young faces I saw gleaming outside the bookstore early Saturday when the book was released. Some young people will embrace this new darkness, while others will feel disenchanted, even disinherited. No one knows exactly where Rowling is ultimately heading with her series, but she has certainly turned a corner here. There are still the delightful moments of legerdemain: ''The furniture flew back to its original places; ornaments reformed in midair, feathers zoomed into their cushions; torn books repaired themselves as they landed upon their shelves; oil lanterns soared onto side tables and reignited. . . ." There are glorious decorative effects, at which Rowling is particularly ingenious: ''The ceiling and walls had been draped with emerald, crimson, and gold hangings, so that it looked as though they were all inside a vast tent. The room was crowded and stuffy and bathed in the red light cast by an ornate golden lamp dangling from a corner of the ceiling in which real fairies were fluttering, each a brilliant speck of light."