Dark magic, blood magic, magic coming with a terrible price…these are all expected tropes in the fantasy genre and I suppose the reason for this is simply that they work! But why do they work? I think it all comes down to the point that magic must come at a cost and, well…it’s just more interesting if there’s a dark catch to things!
If we are to believe in a natural balance then there is an “evil” for every “good” and it only makes sense that the same laws would apply to magic. Especially to magic. It’s important to remember that magic can be a tool, and like any tool it is manipulated by those who wield it. A spell used to save lives in one way can be used to destroy life in another. Balance. It’s needed. We accept it. And it gives us so many delicious plot points!
Think about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone- the stone was originally used to be awesome- grant immortality and turn stuff into gold. But then evil Dark Arts Professor Quirrell wanted to use it to restore Voldemort to his body. Again awesome, but now with nefarious and dark purpose. And why did everyone seem to forget about the gold-making part?
I think its important for stories to show the darker and more dangerous side of magic not just because this gives our heroes a villain with equal but darker powers but because it echoes our own humanity- the good and the bad. What do you think? Can you think of any other reasons it’s necessary to show the darker sides of magic in every story? Can you think of a time when this doesn’t happen? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!