The Pull of the Supernatural by Lorraine Sharma Nelson

What is it about all things supernatural that people find so fascinating? If you doubt my word, take a look around. Bookstores abound with tales of vampires, ghosts, zombies, and fairies and their kin. Teenagers, in particular, seem to have embraced this genre. There are countless Young Adult books out there, ranging from vampires to ghosts and everything in-between.

Then, there are the movies. Even though superhero movies aren’t supernatural, they have similar elements. I mean, c’mon – superheroes can fly, have super-strength, super powers, see through solid objects, travel between worlds, turn invisible at will…need I go on? And to say that these movies have exploded in popularity would be an understatement.

Finally, TV. Nary a day goes by that horror movies don’t pop up by the boatload when I’m searching for something to watch. And, there are horror movies to satisfy every fan’s fancy. You want vampires? You got ‘em. Ghosts? No problem. Zombies? Hah! Take your pick. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the world’s most popular shows is The Walking Dead.

So, what is it about the supernatural that people find so fascinating? Personally, I think it provides an accepted escape from everyday life. The supernatural, like science-fiction, can address issues of racism, sexism, society, class structure – the list goes on – but makes it more acceptable, and far safer to do so, because of its very nature.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula addressed the class structure of its day by showing the difference between the working class, who were “fed on” by the upper classes, personified by Count Dracula. The gap between the two was insurmountable, and the working class was helpless against the aristocracy.

What do ghosts personify? I think ghosts mean different things to different people. Maybe they represent a person’s fears, or maybe the idea that when one dies, he or she doesn’t just cease to exist. People are terrified of the notion that our soul doesn’t linger on in some way or form. Ghosts, as terrifying as they are sometimes portrayed, provide proof that we don’t just cease to exist.

What about the Fey people – fairies and their ilk? What do beautiful fairies with translucent wings, elves, gnomes, changelings, sirens, and a host of other magical creatures, represent? Maybe they were stories originally intended to keep children in line. Want to keep your kiddies from straying too far into the forest? Tell them that the wee folk live there, and if they see you, they’ll whisk you away forever.

And finally, zombies. They seem to be everywhere these days, don’t they? Which is great for zombie lovers. Not so much for the haters. Why do the living dead have such a hold on society today? Could it be because zombies represent our 21st-century mentality of mindless consumption? Our constant craving for always wanting more than we have. Our unsatisfied hungers.

Do we see ourselves as nothing more than a mindless, empty, reaching, grasping people, constantly yearning for something just out of reach – be it wealth, fame, power, love, or happiness? Zombies put a name and a face to what we all are and what we all want. And it’s not a pretty sight.

There you have it. Some reasons as to why the supernatural has such a hold on us. You may agree or disagree, but one thing is for sure; the supernatural, in all its many incarnations, is here to stay.


Lorraine grew up globally, constantly having to adapt to different cultures. Writing was her escape from the reality of always being the new girl in school. These days she writes for the pure joy of creating new stories instead of escapism. Her short stories have been published in sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and mystery/crime anthologies, and usually feature an Indian protagonist.

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