ON THE WHOLE, FANTASY WRITERS THINK A LOT ABOUT THE PAST.
There are classic medieval-inspired epic fantasies, of course, but even contemporary urban fantasy draws on ancient folklore in the form of vampires, demons, and fairies. As Michael Moorcock pointed out in his often-quoted essay about epic fantasy, there are different ways for a fantasy writer to approach history.
A writer can romanticize bygone days of rolling hills, round wooden doors, and leafy forests. Or, an author could go the other way, scouring history’s dark side—picking over the bones of bludgeoned kings, botched executions, and the frenzied witch-hunting mobs—the murky days before modern science, when feeding a urine-cake to a dog could identify a witch.
. . . and that brings us to dark fantasy.