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Reading in the DarkHorror in Children's Literature and Culture$
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Jessica R. McCort

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496806444

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2018

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496806444.001.0001

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“In the Darkest Zones”

“In the Darkest Zones”

The Allure of Horror in Contemporary Revisionist Fairy-Tale Novels for Children

(p.121) “In the Darkest Zones”
Reading in the Dark

Jessica R. McCort

University Press of Mississippi

This essay focuses specifically on the recent fairy-tale novels Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm as examples of gruesome, morally impactful modern fairy tales. Jessica R. McCort situates these particular books in relation to twentieth-century women authors’ dark fairy-tale revisions that emphasize identity development and the current cultural moment, a time in which mainstream American culture is obsessed with the darker side of fairy tales and the resurgence and rehabilitation of the fairy tale. Both Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm, filled with violence, gore, and horror, hearken back to the literary fairy tales that precede them and concentrate on the idea that children must learn to conquer their demons in order to achieve self-awareness. As McCort argues, these novels illustrate that children can gain, through textual encounters with the horrific, an enhanced sense of self and the power of bravery. In the end, this essay argues that these books are excellent examples of the social importance of maintaining terror as part of the texture of modern fairy tales for young readers, especially those in which the pursuit of personal identity is at the apple’s core.

Keywords:   Coraline, A Tale Dark and Grimm, Fairy tale, Violence, Identity

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