Recently I re-read Megan Derr’s Dance with the Devil – a book I always read again when I’m busy as I love it, but I can put it away, because I already know how it ends – and a passage stuck with me.
“All of the little girls had giggled over Prince Charming, the boys over the damsels, and sometimes the girls had wanted the damsels and the boys the handsome princes. Chris, though—he’d hated all of those kids, the ones who had beat him up or laughed as he was beaten up. The ones who called him freaky and scary and weird. He hadn’t wanted any part of the stupid people they liked in all those stories they read. No, he’d always wanted the dark wizard in the tower who had made them all miserable. He was a detective to help people, but at heart, he was also one to get back at the assholes who had hurt him.” (© Megan Derr, Dance with the Devil)
We are quite often attracted to the Prince Charmings or the Prince Charmings in disguise (the famous misunderstood Bad Boys). The heroes who save the day and the Damsel or Gentlemen in distress. Often very shiny. Known to do everything right, say the right things and always help everyone. Well almost everyone. Also known to be hypocritical, because they see the world in only black and white. Good and Bad.
Like Chris, I can’t help but like the Dark Wizard in the Tower. Quite often a hero in disguise, but not as goody goody. They don’t send the bad guy to prison, because it’s the right thing to do. No they shoot the bad guy (or zap him with lightning) until he or she is dead dead dead, so that there can be no returns. No revenge from said bad guy.
The Dark Wizard, or “grey hero” are often realists. They do what needs to be done, even if sacrifices need to be made; theirs or others to preserve the balance. They shoot the one innocent bystander to save hundreds more. Or they sacrifice parts of themselves – not literal – so others can live.
Most famous is the character of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter books. Seen by many as an asshat and evil and rotten and what not. In the end, he was one of those “grey heroes”. One that did what needed to be done.
There are more gradients or shades of grey. Like Chris in in Dance with the Devil, I have a few grey heroes. Who are your grey heroes?
- Stryker is a character created by Sherrilyn Kenyon. He’s an ongoing feature in the Dark Hunter series. Stryker has great big daddy issues. His father Apollo cursed him and the other Appolites to die horribly on their 27th birthday. Ever since then he leads an ongoing onslaught against the Dark Hunters and his other enemies. He has a twisted code of honor, be he does have one. Just beware getting on his bad side.
- Like Striker, Malphas – also known as Caleb – is a side character in the Nick Chronicles. Older than dirt, but looks not a day over 20. Demon and demi god, he has long been enslaved. While first evil, he was turned to the good side by a woman who later became his wife. Until everything went sideways and screwie six ways to Sunday. Now Caleb is enslaved to the ultimate tool of evil. Death is not an option. So he does what he must to survive. Like Stryker, he has a twisted code of honor and humor.
- Sable Brennan is a character created by Megan Derr and a main fixture in the Dance with the Devil series and the book by the same name. He is Chris’s Dark Wizard as much as Chris is one himself. As a demon and one of the enslaved races, Sable is lord of the territory he can’t leave. He’s a good leader and business leader, but he is also ruthless. He’s not one to cross, except when you’re Chris. Then you can do all the crossing you want.
- Shane is a character in the Lost Shifters series, created by Stephani Hecht. Shane was a pawn when the Ravens made a bid for power. Raised by a ruthless, selfish man, he and his brothers were used to gain money in private, high end jobs. Out of the three, Shane was the assassin. He sooner kills you than talks to you. But despite being a Leopard – known to be sociopaths – Shane is known to do the right thing and help out those in need. Although it sometimes get a bit bloody.
I love these characters and there are a few more. Who needs knights in shining armour, when you can have any of the above characters?
So let me in on your heroes of the dark!