The summer’s title word was “dark”: The Painted Darkness, A Darker Shade of Dead, Out of the Dark, etc. The fall’s appears to be “shadow”. We’ve gotten in two different books called Shadowheart (one by Tad Williams, one by James Barclay) plus In the Shadow of Swords by Van Gunn. But don’t lose hope, darkness fans! Surrender to Darkness just landed on my shelves, along with the slightly more general Midnight Riot. And in what might be a harbinger of next season’s trends, I also see Angel at Dawn and Chasing the Sun. Maybe we crave darkness in the summer and light in the winter.
After a while, I start to feel like these titles are cop-outs. “Dark” and “light” are used as stand-ins for so many different ideas that they lose their power. (Cat Valente has an unrelated-to-titles take on this here.) Particularly in paranormal romance, darkness is both evil and enticing, the source of both fear and power. Light tends to get a bad rap by comparison, of the “Evil will always triumph because good is dumb” sort. No one actually wants to be on the side of right and good. It’s boring. So dark ends up being cast as antagonist and protagonist and plot device all at once, and that gets boring too.
My challenge to fantasists is this: do more with color. Give us pink magic, puce magic, plaid and polka-dotted magic. Give light and dark a break. You might be amazed by what you can do when you have a whole spectrum to work with.