Dark Contemporary Themes in a Fantasy Novel


Contemporary fantasy novels written for adults are not full of rainbows and lollipops. And really, who wants them to be? “Watch out Zameethia, the evil wizard’s forming a spell. Oh, no! He’s flooding the mall with jawbreakers!”

Be still, my beating heart.

Evil exists in the world. While it may not be exemplified by a bald megalomaniacal genius with an evil laugh and a hairless cat trained to push the button labeled “Destroy Earth,” it does destroy the lives of people just out to have a pleasant evening in places like Paris, Nice or Orlando. And it is found in not so random violence in too many cities and in war zones around the world.

Contemporary Fantasies

My Merlin books are contemporary fantasies. The ancient British druid wakes up in a society where ordinary people—people you might have passed on the street this morning—perform much of the evil. Plain old-fashioned greed drives men to brutally murder a farmer and his wife looking for gold hidden in the house. An attendant in a psychiatric hospital takes sexual advantage of a seventeen-year-old girl whose mind has retreated from the world. A criminal gang traffics human slaves into Houston. An ordinary, upscale suburban housewife owns one of those slaves.

In the first book of the series, even the narrator Alfred fantasizes revenge on the bosses who laid him off, and he considers acts of road rage.

Let me say right here that the books of my Merlin’s Thread series are not intended for children or teens.

Human Scale of Evil

It’s the human scale of this type of violence that is unsettling. What if three idiots broke into my home looking for gold I don’t have? What if someone grabbed my daughter, my son, my brother, sister, mother, father off the street to sell them into slavery?

Wouldn’t I like to have a druid magician step into my life about that time?

The Merlin’s Thread series isn’t unremitting tales of horrors against humanity. The books have an emphasis on characters and a modicum of sword and sorcery action. Some scenes are absolutely delightful, light and, I hope, funny. But sometimes evil steps into our path.

Heroes and Healing

Merlin’s Knot deals with what it means to be a hero. Merlin’s Weft examines the healing of a person whose soul starts out severely fractured. The action takes place around character development, rather than the other way around.

Maybe someday I’ll include a supersized villain out to destroy the world, but before I do that, I have to find a credible way to explain how anyone, megalomaniac or not, can train a cat to push that “Destroy Earth” button on command. Personally, I don’t think it can be done.

Merlin’s Weft will be released in November.

Merlin’s Knot is available on Amazon.com.

Go to my Web site to obtain a copy of the prequel, Merlin’s Shuttle. He doesn’t battle evil in that story, but he does face off against Mother Nature.


About andersen52

I am author of the contemporary fantasy series Merlin's Thread. The first novel is Merlin's Knot.
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