Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Guest post by Gef Fox - Romance & Horror co-mingle in The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

What business do horror and romance have commingling in film and literature?

I mean, the two genres seem diametrically opposed, don't they? Each sets out to draw out a totally different emotional response from readers. And yet, there are books and movies out there that have managed to effectively blend the two, albeit amid a morass of failed attempts.

Bram Stoker's Dracula might be the easiest example, though I'm not sure I'd label the bloodsucker a romantic, so much as a sexual predator. How about the classic movie, The Bride of Frankenstein? Hmmm. Getting closer. What about Twilight? Ugh, it's like I don't even know you.

So, what would be a great book or movie in horror-romance?

I can't say definitively, but allow me to offer one novel that I believe is an effective blend of the two genres: Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

A 2009 debut novel in the dystopian YA genre, Hands and Teeth tells the story of Mary through her PoV, a teen girl living in a walled village, surrounded by a forest overrun by zombies known as the Unconsecrated. Much like The Hunger Games, there is the sense that the story is set generations after a cataclysmic event, but in this case there is no government. Instead, there's the Sisterhood, who rule in a puritanical manner and oversee everything in the village, right down to arranging marriages.

The horror elements obviously come from the Unconsecrated and the havoc they inevitably lay upon the village when their guard is down. And let me tell you, there are some harrowing moments through the book once the shambling hordes break through the village's perimeter.

As for the romance, it's deftly interwoven through the action without becoming insipid or monopolizing the plot. Mary may be the victim of unrequited love, but it delves a little deeper than that, what with her role as a protector and guide when the zombies hit the scene.

I don't think the book was ever really marketed as horror or romance, instead tapping into that lucrative young adult market. So, feel free to criticize this recommendation as not strictly falling into either category, but I still say the blending of genres works out really well and the book wound up being one of my very favorites from that year.

So, for those of you who enjoy novels that tug the heartstrings while also scaring the bejesus out of you, The Forest of Hands of Teeth is a book I heartily recommend.

Thank you Gef for stopping by and telling us why this book has it all -- Romance, Horror, a good plot...I also enjoyed this book very much. 

Please visit Wag the Fox for awesome recommendations, interviews and posts. 


Jen | Book Den said...

Great post! I've gone back and forth on whether I wanted to read this one or not, and you've pushed me on the "read" side of the fence. It's nice to hear you both liked it.

fakesteph said...

I thought this book was so freaking good! The PERFECT blend of horror and romance.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

I didn't love this book like I thought I would, but I do think it could be a great movie. It easily could have been marketed as a horror or adult fiction- age of the characters, especially when dealing with dystopian themes and zombies, doesn't seem to matter much, not when teens have to start acting like adults.

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