“You’ll enjoy these,” said my friend. “Couple of them are a bit on the dark side.” Being of a Gothic-bent in my youth I do enjoy ‘dark’ literature – in exactly the same way as I relish dark chocolate, Mahler and moonless nights. Dark doesn’t necessarily mean horror, morbid or sombre – dark chocolate is bitter but gives immense tow-curling enjoyment; Mahler reaches down into the pit of the soul and can be tremendously uplifting. Dark nights enable one to slither down from the belfry and … oh, never mind … Dark fiction is a very personal thing and if I were to think of my own favourite novels, we’ll find that these have a very dark side indeed. Top of my list, where it has remained for over 40 years is John Fowles’ ‘The Magus’. This is a peculiar book and not just in content. Described as ‘a towering entertainment’ and a ‘virtuoso feat of storytelling’ it was often accused of being incomprehensible; to add to its strangeness, the author even put out a revised version of the novel’s ending a decade later. Most of the story takes place against a backdrop of pagan sensuality on a remote Greek island in the 1950s but the principal character and narrator elicits little sympathy from the reader as he clumsily attempts to unravel the complicated skeins of truth and illusion spun by an adroit puppet-master.