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I write and live with my beautiful wife, Sandra, and sons (Solstice, Finnegan and Brahms) in a little-big house on a dirt road in a valley in the hills. My secret identity struggles through the grind of teaching high school English to the denizens of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review of Darkness on the Edge of Town by Brian Keene

This is the first fiction I have read by Brian Keene, but I can say that Mr. Keene has a brand new fan. Darkness on the Edge of Town is a 264 page brutal study of a small American town in the the twenty-first century that becomes surrounded by a supernatural darkness and consumed by the darkness that already resided within.

Being told from the first person perspective allows the story to remain mysterious, immediate and brutal. I particularly liked the fact that the novel succeeds in creating a reality that speaks to the experience of people of Generation X and younger. We no longer know our neighbors, we no longer enjoy a sense of community, however claustrophobic an experience that was for the baby boom generation and those of earlier generations. In this way, Keene's story is a bit more persuasive in its horror than such works as Under the Dome, that are still inevitably told from the narrative perspective of those who experienced a different America.

I did not want to like this book, as it is visceral, haunting, and deeply explored the edge of madness we all skirt at times. I did like this book, however, and for anyone who is sick of torture porn or stories where evil is so easily categorized and made mundane by Vampire detectives and the like, you will here find a story that will not fail to tickle your terror bone.

The book, in its veiled references and the characters' mad hypothesizing, alludes to a lot of historical horror, it also hints at the terror of existing in the black prison of a gnostic universe. I will read more of Keene's work, intrigued to see if he explores this vision in the rest of his body of work.

I will rate this book five stars out of five. I do this because I kept reading, despite the despair and terror I experienced. It is an apocalyptic vision that I will not soon forget. Now, I will wait for the sun to come out of the late winter sky and savor every last bit of its light.

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