Welcome back to Dissecting The Dark Descent, where we lovingly delve into the guts of David Hartwell’s seminal 1987 anthology story by story, and in the process, explore the underpinnings of a genre we all love. For an in-depth introduction, here’s the intro post.
For some writers, the idea that love will last beyond the grave is unbelievably romantic. For E. Nesbit, it’s terrifying. “John Charrington’s Wedding” sees the English fantasist and socialist (never one to meet a fairy-tale or romantic trope she couldn’t put her own spin on) examining the horror of this idea and its realistic outcomes, complete with an undead groom, a terrified bride, and wedding guests who are understandably bewildered that the two are even getting married, given how many times Charrington was rebuffed. By examining the basic plotline of a gothic “beyond the grave” romance and skewering it with a certain dark, acerbic aplomb, Nesbit exposes the twisted power dynamics behind privilege and obsession, and in doing so writes a strange ghost story for the ages.