In any event, whether a supernatural tale remains altogether fantastic or eventually modulates to the uncanny or the marvelous, the reader is faced with disconcerting ontological and perceptual problems.Indeed, the disorienting effect of the supernatural encounter in fiction seems to reflect some deeper disorientations in the culture at large.
Supernatural fiction contains its own generic borderland: a neutral territory, which Tzvetan Todorov calls 'the fantastic,' between 'the marvelous' and 'the uncanny.' According to Todorov, 'The fantastic is that hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event.' Once the event is satisfactorily explained (and sometimes it is never explained), we have left the fantastic for an adjacent genre - either 'the uncanny,' where the apparently supernatural is revealed as illusory, or 'the marvelous,' where the laws of ordinary reality must be revised to incorporate the supernatural. As long as uncertainty reigns, however, we are in the ambiguous realm of the fantastic.