The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games

The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games

Reveals the diversity crisis in children's and young adult media as not only a lack of representation, but a lack of imagination

Stories provide portals into other worlds, both real and imagined. The promise of escape draws people from all backgrounds to speculative fiction, but when people of color seek passageways into the fantastic, the doors are often barred. This problem lies not only with children’s publishing, but also with the television and film executives tasked with adapting these stories into a visual world. When characters of color do appear, they are often marginalized or subjected to violence, reinforcing for audiences that not all lives matter.

The Dark Fantastic is an engaging and provocative exploration of race in popular youth and young adult speculative fiction. Grounded in her experiences as YA novelist, fanfiction writer, and scholar of education, Thomas considers four black girl protagonists from some of the most popular stories of the early 21st century: Bonnie Bennett from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Rue from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Gwen from the BBC’s Merlin, and Angelina Johnson from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Analyzing their narratives and audience reactions to them reveals how these characters mirror the violence against black and brown people in our own world.

In response, Thomas uncovers and builds upon a tradition of fantasy and radical imagination in Black feminism and Afrofuturism to reveal new possibilities. Through fanfiction and other modes of counter-storytelling, young people of color have reinvisioned fantastic worlds that reflect their own experiences, their own lives. As Thomas powerfully asserts, “we dark girls deserve more, because we are more.”

Title:The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games
ISBN:9781479800650
Format Type:

    The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games Reviews

  • Stephanie

    I’m going to write a longer review for Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, but I want to put a shorter one here since I just finished it about 30 minutes ago.As a Black girl nerd, I was beyon...

  • Monica **can't read fast enough**

    3 1/2 starsTHE DARK FANTASTIC points out the shortcomings, failures, and the too slow expansion of diversity and authors of color getting much needed exposure and support. This did read much like a t...

  • Julie Bozza

    I came to this book for two reasons. One is that I’m a fan of BBC "Merlin", and I was happy to see the show finally being considered in an academic work. The other is that I’m a writer, and a Whit...

  • Seema Rao

    Exceptional ~ Thought-provoking ~ Importanttl; dr: Forget you! Read this.Ebony Elizabeth Thomas is a well-known scholar, so I am not surprised her book is fantastic. She does what the best of academic...

  • Debbie Gascoyne

    Both engaging and scholarly, this is a passionate, urgent, and extremely timely study of the depiction of race in young adult fantasy. One aspect that I find particularly useful for adoption in a coll...

  • Pascale

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was totally drawn to this title by the beautiful cover, and by the fact that I to fangirled hard over H...

  • Leseparatist

    I read this book courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for a review.I am not entirely sure that I found each example used by Thomas to advance her argument equally persuasive: for instance, is Gwen the b...

  • Never Without a Book?

    Dare I say it? The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Thomas is my second favorite nonfiction of the year! First off, this cover is stunning! Now t...

  • Anna Tan

    The Dark Fantastic is a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in how race affects the character development of people of colour in fantasy, as well as their reception by readers/viewers regard...

  • Breanne Gibson

    Thank you NYU Press and NetGalley for this review copy. The Dark Fantastic started out a bit slow for me, but it picked up with Chapter 2 when Thomas started addressing specific books and films. This ...