As I ponder “Dark Fantasy” and “Love” here goes a torrent of examples one cannot hope to address in brevity. We can go from Vampire love to Frankenstein love and not even begin to approach Ghost love, Werewolf love, or even Zombie love (is there zombie love?).
A psychologist told me many years ago that “the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.” When I think of my relationships in the past, I couldn’t agree more. We want to hurt people we hate. We actually hurt people we love. We ignore people we feel nothing for.
On further analysis on how love can be used in dark fantasy, there’s little variation on how one would use romantic love in any other setting. A teenage girl falls in love with a sparkly vampire like she could fall in love with the star quarterback. A nurse could fall in love with a doctor she works for even if he’s building a monster instead of treating patients. Swamp monsters fall for beautiful blondes in old monster films.
Romantic settings move our characters in ways few other emotions can; from love hate, jealousy, charm, and narcissism. Any character, be it animal, monster, vampire, werewolf, ghost, or human is vulnerable and there are few defenses. By developing love interests we develop the characters and show the reader what lies behind the motivations of his/her deeds, human or not.
Flipping the coin on the other side, the lack of love, meaning the amoral character, also can stand out as clear as the presence of love. The prototype is a serial killer, but any monster that lives off the lives of others, for example, in many vampire stories (Dracula) the lack of love develops a character to the same depth when crafted against those who value life and feel love.
I’ve been criticized for not having enough love interest in my first novella of my four-part series. But sometimes love takes time, and may arise from places unexpected to the reader. As a writer, speaking for the joy of writing, it’s sometimes pleasantly unexpected to authors as well.