Well, depending on your experiences in the realm of relationships, maybe not! I stumbled across this term for a Romance sub-genre when I visited the blog, Preternatura, and read an interview with author Marissa Farrar. She was talking about how the genre, at least in her case, picked the writer. She'd been drawn to scary stuff since her teens and she said she never felt she had a choice but to write horror. Even when she wrote something with leanings toward another genre the horror found its way in; hence her coining the term Romantic Horror.
I would define Romantic Horror as a strong romance plot combined with an equally strong horror plot; think Stephen King meets any Harlequin! Now, I am not a fan of horror movies. The tension tends to make me jumpy. I enjoy the plots though. Take the movie 1408 with John Cusack. I was so into that plot but man, when the crazy stuff started happening … I had to get up and leave the room. My husband laughed at me but I was so on edge, I couldn't stand it any longer. I went in my office and Googled the movie. I read the Wikipedia synopsis so I could find out how it ended!
But a book is different. The music isn't heightening the suspense and things aren't going to jump out at me every five seconds. Whatever occurs in a novel is limited to my imagination as far as visual impact goes-I can tone it downJ. So when I read Marissa's post and the blurb for her book I was intrigued rather than apprehensive. I am so glad that I pushed past any "fear"!
Alone is not, in my opinion, a "horror" novel, not like a Stephen King or Dean Koontz anyway. Alone is sooo much more than mere spooky stuff or gore and it is precisely because there is a strong thread of romance. The novel is the story of Serenity, a woman caught in an abusive marriage. She is walking down a crowded street in LA and suffers a panic attack. She takes off running through the crowds on the sidewalk and turns into an alley to try and calm herself. A man follows her and asks if she is all right; that is the start of a truly touching relationship.
The man is handsome beyond belief but it is the compassion and sensitivity Serenity sees in him that draws her. The initial meeting is brief but the memory of him lingers as she makes her way home and is confronted with the A-hole husband. I'm not going to go into too much detail here except to say that Sebastian, the man from the street, rescues Serenity from another round of abuse and their relationship blossoms from there.
Since it is on the blurb I'll go ahead and say that Sebastian is a vampire. The desperation he sees in her eyes at their first meeting draws him to her and over the course of the novel we learn that Sebastian, like Serenity, is afraid and tired of being alone. That is the focus of this remarkable book; a woman who clings to a horrid life because she thinks it is better than being alone and a vampire weary of his solitary "life" and longing for what he lost when he was made a vampire yet reluctant to bring the woman he loves into that life.
There is horror. Scenes that show how a vampire must feed are fairly graphic and the abuse scenes are visceral. That is what takes the novel toward the Horror genre, but to me this is women's fiction, romance, and I'd say it borders on pure literary fiction. It really is that good; thought provoking. This novel has lingered in my mind for over a week and I highly recommend it.
I think it is sticking with me because it touches on a theme that I have pontificated on for years; the idea that women tend to identify who they are by the man they are with. I see so many young women, teens through twenties that focus their energies on finding and keeping a man. It is as if they won't be complete without one. Then they get one, marry, and have kids. Their thirties are filled with being the perfect wife and mother. They let it consume them and subjugate their personal passions for it. Then they hit their forties and all too often discover that they resent all of the things they didn't do for themselves; Career, travel, whatever was their dream. They also tend to find that with an empty nest comes a husband they don't really know or like. This may not be the norm, but for me personally I know many women in their late forties who are divorced and finally pursuing their dreams. They are business owners, singers, writers, artists; and they are happy! While not 'man haters', they have found that they don't need a man in their lives to be content. In other words, they are comfortable being … Alone.
If you find yourself as intrigued as I was by the themes of Alone, you can get this book FREE for a limited time at Smashwords and, January 18th the author, Marissa Farrar will be joining me here! She hasn't settled on a blog topic yet so I thought if any of you want to grab a copy of Alone now, you could submit questions you might have and I will pass them along for Marissa to answer as part of her January 18th post.
So, how 'bout it? Going to read Alone? I promise it is a great read-dark, sensual, heartbreaking, poignant … I could go on but I'll restrain myself!
I'm also wondering if anyone has encountered other books that fit into the romantic horror genre. Oh, and feel free to comment on my "theory" J.