Three for Thursday – the Dark Arts

It’s that time of year when Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse the curtained sleep. Or perhaps not. Nevertheless, the bell has tolled and needs must when the Devil rides – it’s time Three for Thursday considered the Dark Arts.*

You may have missed my earlier enthusings about Hold me closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. And that’s a sad thing if you find the idea of a talking head in a bowling bag funny. With wit, adventure and a little romance, this aimed-at-teens-but-happy-to-cross-over book shows that the Dark Arts just come naturally to some people…and some of those people are very nasty indeed.

(I’ve just gone off into a fugue state contemplating “severed heads as secondary characters” as a Three for Thursday, with Brooke from Hold Me closer, Necromancer and Kasabian from Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series clearly making the cut (so to speak). But a DVD…. I mean, I can think of severed heads in boxes – Se7en and Barton Fink spring to mind – but apart from Baby Bowler’s bowling ball in Mystery Men (which contains her father’s kind of sentient skull), or the journalist in Mars Attacks whose head gets grafted onto her chihuahua’s body….. nah. Help me out here, people.)

Anyway, back to the twisted, pointy end of the Dark Arts

Somehow, when it was first published in 2007, I missed The Bone Key by Sarah Monette. Thankfully, it has been re-released and my attention was inexorably drawn to it, in the latest NextReads Horror book alert, by its subtitle – The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth. This exceptional collection of ten short stories, which the author acknowledges are a loving homage to the works of H.P.Lovecraft and M.R. James, are stylish and understated horror. Booth is a delight – socially awkward, brilliant, nervous and more sensitive to the supernatural than he would like – and I find myself immensely pleased to have made his acquaintance.**

And, speaking of homage to Lovecraft, my favourite Dark Arts film would have to be Cast a Deadly Spell – a comedy noir horror featuring hard-boiled private investigator H. Phillip Lovecraft. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a copy of this 1991 made for television film on DVD, so you can’t borrow it from the library. We also don’t stock my second choice of a Dark Arts film – Constantine. I’m not a huge fan of Keanu Reeves, who plays the titular anti-hero, but I like this movie, and I enjoy the graphic novels it was (rather loosely) based on.*** You have to go back to the Swamp Thing graphic novels to meet the original John Constantine, or you can follow his adventures along the dark paths in the Hellblazer graphic novels. Right then, I’m off to put a hold on those two Constantine GNs written by Mike Carey, since I enjoyed his Felix Castor series so much.

*What? You were expecting Harry Potter?

**You can read another Kyle Murchison Booth story online in Clarkesworld Magazine

***Reinforcing Timothy’s theory that all conversations come back to Alan Moore.

(The lovely skeletal image is by jeltovski found on MorgueFile.)