Fantasy Noir? Yes, Please!

I am intrigued by fantasy noir.

Luis Escobar kept telling me that The Tower’s Alchemist had noir elements, and the Open Book Society said the story read “like an old black and white movie” (and in a good way!).

But what exactly is fantasy noir? What do we mean when we use the term?

I love what author Anne Lyle had to say about it at her blog:

To my mind, that’s a defining element of fantasy noir. It’s not just about the rundown cities or the magic, but the introduction of tropes from other genres. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a heist caper; The Sword of Albion is a James-Bond-esque spy thriller. Noir is practically defined by its “mashup” nature, and that’s what our magpie culture loves. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Why the hell not?

The mash-up of tropes is lovely indeed, and I think The Gray Tower Trilogy fits right in. I have also seen others describe fantasy noir as having a 1920s-1950s setting, and there has to be rain, etc. At the same time, a quick check on Goodreads would reveal “fantasy noir” lists that include Butcher’s Dresden Files.

I agree with Ms. Lyle that we will be seeing more fantasy noir. Though I’m still unsure if there is a strict definition of what qualifies as fantasy noir (and please feel free to contribute and point me in the right direction), I am thoroughly enjoying the mash-up of stories that I’m seeing nowadays, and it can only be a win for fantasy lovers.

By the way, to celebrate the upcoming release of the final book of The Gray Tower Trilogy (Circadian Circle), the first book, The Tower’s Alchemist, is FREE at Smashwords and iBookstore (Amazon won’t allow me to manually price my book at $0.00 so I’m waiting for their price matching to kick in).


  1. Fantasy Noir? Interesting concept, I like it!

    BTW, found you on Goodreads and I’m looking forward to reading your series.

    1. Author

      April, agreed! I can’t wait to see more books emerge in this genre. And thank you for finding me on Goodreads 🙂

  2. I Googled “fantasy noir” and came across this entry. Reason I was Googling it is because I’m actually part of an anthology of short fantasy noir stories that’s going to be released soon (pre-orders are being done on Indiegogo at the moment), and I wanted to see what else was out there. I suspect you’re right that it’s something that we’ll start seeing more of.

    1. Author


      Agreed! I’m very much looking forward to the genre expanding. Please feel free to share the title of your anthology, and keep us updated. I’d love to share it with readers 🙂

  3. I google fantasy noir for research for my book and came across this post. My book is about a private who has to deal with demons. After reading a bunch of hard-boiled detectives novels I really wanted to capture the style of noir with a more modern take on things. I don’t know how well I did, but I guess I’ll find out soon.

    I’m going to be checking your trilogy out now and I’ll give a follow on Twitter to top it off

    1. Author

      Alexander, thank you! And please drop me an email so that I can do a Feature Friday on your book. A private detective that has to deal with demons? I’m already interested!

  4. I’ve only recently come up with the term Fantasy Noir myself. Was glad to see it has been a growing subgenre for a while now. I had found most modern fantasy rather boring, and well, I just couldn’t find anything that intrigued me anymore. So, I decided to write my own. Thing is, I wanted a world that isn’t all sweetness and light, I wanted a world that has pretty much suffered some major calamity, or a world that is full of darkness, where the people don’t live in happy little villages where the hero decides to leave for no good reason. If I am living somewhere I like I am not going to give that up because of some prophecy etc. My hero needed a reason, and the good enough reason is that where you live is a hole, a village full of mud and mess.

    So, Fantasy Noir it is. I just need to decide the style of writing. Perhaps an amalgamation of William Gibson/Tolkien. Seems like a good idea. I wonder if I will ever pull that off eh?

    1. Author

      Dazza, I agree! Fantasy Noir gives you some fun room to play around with and gives some typical fantasy settings an interesting, dark twist. Do you have a work in progress?

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