Book Review: The Dark by Jason Brant

Self-published books can be hit or miss. I’ve read some superb examples and some truly awful examples through the likes of BookBub. Mostly, the quality has been fair to good. I usually judge my interest not by reviews but by how much the blurb appeals. This one certainly appealed so I gave it a shot.

Summary

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a basic feeling that things are not quite right? This is one of our basest fears and the author knows exactly how to play on them. Woken in the middle of the night by the sound of an explosion and realising that she fell asleep with her Kindle on, Chrissy is disturbed by Molly – her ancient dog – growling at the doorway. Chrissy looks out of the window to see a darkness like she had never experienced before. Even the stars seem to have gone. The busy road is quiet and there is little light aside from a few burning cars.

Something isn’t right and when Chrissy’s mother (who lives 20 miles away) calls from the bedroom door to turn out the light because it’s too bright, she knows something isn’t right. She wakes her roommate and her boyfriend who’d been having sex in the middle of the night lighting the room only with candles (do you see a theme here?). Together, they attempt to contact others in the building but nobody else is around.

Plus Points

This is one of the most captivating and intense first chapters I have ever read. Few can compare for the sheer base terror; it’s primal fear in fiction format. The author gets massive amounts of kudos for that. The book is paced nicely although I do feel it’s a little short. He could have added 50-100 pages more and not really lost any of the pacing or story. No matter, it is what it is – a relatively short and intense read that gets the horror theme spot on.

Minus Points

The flow jars in places because the author uses the long way to making a salient point. This is most apparent in overuse of the word “that”. We’ve all done it and unless we thoroughly edit our work, we don’t realise how stifling this simple word can be to the flow of a story. The characterisation is pretty thin too. They aren’t so much cliché as one-dimensional. Nobody has any real depth but at least the writer knows how to emotionally engage you in their story. There is nothing worse than indifference when reading a horror story. You want to route for the group. Thankfully, the writer recognises this too. I wasn’t keen on the events taking place outside of the zone. The story may have been stronger for leaving it out but that’s a matter of personal preference.

This is certainly one of the better examples of self-published fiction: a solid 4/5

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