February 24th, 2006

Postbox Fairy

Spectres and Dementors

I have been listening again to His Dark Materials on audio book recently, and was struck by the similarity between spectres and the dementors of the Harry Potter universe. Both creatures of mist1 that consume people's souls, leaving them zombielike. Both invisible to a large section of the population (adults in HDM, muggles in HP). And spectres even seem to use a form of "dementor's kiss" (Pullman mentions a spectre putting its 'face' to the face of a pilot it is attacking).

So, were Pullman and Rowling both drawing on some common source I'm unaware of, or did she copy him (The Subtle Knife 1997, Prisoner of Azkaban 1999), or is it just coincidence?

Google turned up nothing for me but various people on chatboards remarking on the similarity; and I had to add a reference to the similarity to Wikipedia myself.

1Well, the corporeality of Dementors is unclear, but they're certainly associated with mist.