Review of The Dark Fantastic

The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games [Postmillennial Pop]
by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas
New York University Press    215 pp.    g
5/19    978-1-4798-0065-0    $28.00

Thomas explores the entrenched concept (and construct) of the “Dark Fantastic” (“my term for the role that racial difference plays in our fantastically storied imaginations”), and the “imagination gap” that results from a dearth of (positive) diverse representation in mainstream speculative fiction. Following an introduction and a theory-setting Chapter 1, Thomas presents chapters on each of four topics: the Hunger Games, the BBC’s Merlin, the Vampire Diaries, and Harry Potter. Thomas’s writing is dense and academic; however, copious personal anecdotes and astute observations ground the theories in applicable, real-life practices for readers who have general interests in fandoms or race and representation in contemporary sci-fi/fantasy.

From the July/August 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more on this topic, see Zetta Elliott's 2010 Writer's Page article "Decolonizing the Imagination," S. R. Toliver's 2019 article "Imaginative Spaces and Connecting Lines: SFF and the CSK," and our list of resources and recommended books, "Books for Black Future Month."

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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