Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: The Dark Will End the Dark

Read 7/2/15 - 7/5/15
4 Stars - Highly Recommended, some creepy stuff in these here pages
Pages: 167
Publisher; Tortoise Books
Released March 2015

I get lots of friend requests on Goodreads. Lots. Mostly from weirdo friend-collectors with whom I have nothing in common, self published authors who are just looking to spam their newest releases in TNBBC, foreign dudes with creepy profiles, and underage users who attempt to bully me around by commenting on my status updates when I don't respond. So I'm not bragging when I say that. 

But every once in a while, I'll get a request from an author who is genuinely reaching out to say hey in appreciation for what TNBBC stands for. While I'd like to say that I'm so tuned in to the small press community that I know about every cool new title that's releasing every second of every day of every week, well, I mean, c'mon. So it's really cool when an author stands up and introduces themselves to me like Darrin did. 

Because I'm a curious person, I took a look at his books and was instantly drawn towards The Dark Will End the Dark. It promotes itself as 14 stunning and visceral stories, deftly mixing realism and fabulism, bleakness and hope, sparkling dialogue and unforgettable characters that will remain in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned. And bleak and stunning and lingering they were. 

This collection of thematically-linked but stylistically unique stories is incredibly sad and tragic and strange. Darrin's obsession with body parts and gender fluidity adds an additional layer of connectivity throughout. 

In the body stories, which are sprinkled all throughout the book - with titles like "Head", "Hand", "Face", "Neck", and "Sores" - Darrin plagues his characters with horrific, though seemingly painless, physical conditions. A man's head dies but his body remains functional; A young child's hand becomes infected and ultimately gives birth to a ghost; after staring at himself countless times in the bathroom mirror, a man's face rearranges itself one day....

These stories are particularly grotesque and unsettling because, while they are incredibly unlikely to happen to someone outside of Darrin's imaginary control, their nightmarish imagery haunts you long after. 

You should know that the collection kicks off with "Tugboat to Traverse City" , by far my favorite of the bunch. It's a tale in which a captainless tugboat, engulfed in fog, slowly begins to lose its passengers as they jump overboard... all except for one strangely apathetic group of friends who are content to just sit and wait and do nothing.  

There's also "The Hiccup King", a cutesy look at a man who's caught a case of the chronic hiccups, and what happens when he comes face to face with the Hiccup King. And "Barney Hester" was pretty cool. In this one, two BFF's go ga-ga over the girl next door until she unhinges her jaw and swallows one of them whole.  

Darrin's mind is a dark and dangerous one. His characters never see what's coming and they never seem to catch a break. And as a reader, I'm totally ok with that.  If you're a newbie to his work, you'll want to rectify that soon. 

Dude can tell a story. And he knows how to author right.

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