Danse Macabre might sound like the perfect title for another of King’s novels, but King readers might be surprised to learn that Danse Macabre is actually King’s non-fiction introduction into the world of horror. Published in the early 80s, Danse Macabre followed on the heels of King’s wildly successful horror novels Carrie, The Shining and The Stand, Danse Macabre was King’s answer to the redundant questions always asked of him concerning the horror genre.
In Danse Macabre, King recounts his genre influences such as H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson (whom King often praises in interviews), and Ray Bradbury. Urging his readers to follow him on a path down the memory lane of the horror genre, King acts as a sort of wise cracking Willy Wonka inside a factory of horrors.
Fans who know little of horror outside the world of King will most likely discover new authors and reading material via King as he explains how novels such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein were the first novels to truly define the genre and remain focal points for horror masters even today.
Like On Writing, Danse Macabre gives a bit more insight into King’s process when writing, though not quite as detailed as On Writing (and certainly not as personal). Longtime readers of King will realize that, while King’s voice is fresh and original, the ideas sometimes are not and King freely admits that. Acknowledging what most fiction writers already know and accept, it’s all been done before. Writers simply play with the archetypes given to them by the writers who have passed long before. It is, however, how the writer treats these archetypes that makes a novel or story work or not work and King relays, in trademark humorous fashion, how he has made these same archetypes work for his novels.
Fans of King will enjoy this look into the darker side of King’s psyche. Writers who have seen King as a benchmark within the world of popular fiction will achieve a better understanding of how King develops his edgier fiction. Danse Macabre, while not a novel or compelling horror short story, is still an insightful look into the dark world of horror.
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