Ever since I discovered the work of Bryan Smith with DEPRAVED in 2009 I always find myself on the lookout for his next title. I may have fallen behind on his impressive backlist but I’m always eager to start a new novel of his. This week’s DARKENED (aka DEADWORLD) is that novel. A rather short one (249 pages on my Kindle), it tells the tale of remaining survivors amidst a post-apocalyptic world where the sky suddenly fills with flying creatures, and holes in the fabric of reality bring forth creepy devilish things with sharp teeth. There’s also a malevolent force around called The Dark One that slips into people’s minds and abuses them or makes them abuse each other.
As expected, sex and violence reign in DARKENED but this one is a little lighter on its atrocities to make room for some character development; which isn’t to say that the author has changed his ways. He still goes splatter-punk but adds a little more depth to his people. Moreover, the story is related in a way that the identity of the narrator (of a journal told in the third person) is left unknown until the very last page. Rather ingenious, I must say.
The second half of DARKENED where it involves The Dark One and his mind-reading prowess is rather interesting but I got to say that its quieter edge threw me off a little. I was expecting more gruesome crazy moments before heading off to the climactic battle of good versus evil. Still, DARKENED is an impressive effort. It even gives a foretaste of what would become SLOWLY WE ROT, Bryan’s strongest novel to date which has a similar setting. If you’re into this man’s work I can assure you’ll find it quite enjoyable despite some unexpected turn of events midway through.
Until next post—Martin