Yesterday for the CSFF Tour I introduced and gave an overview of Mike Dellosso’s latest novel, Darkness Follows.
Mike writes in the category of “supernatural suspense,” which basically is the CBA euphemism for horror. There are speculative elements, so the term is not totally inaccurate. Still, it is good to evaluate it in the proper viewpoint.
Strengths: The book creates a lot of tension around Sam Travis, the protaganist. Is he cracking due to his head injury? Is he having a psychiatric break, or is there an outside force working on him? Mike sets up this question in the reader’s mind, and does a good job drawing it out through to the end. This is why I liken it to The Shining. He keeps the suspense bulding with this tactic effectively.
The mystery killings also set the mood. We know early on they lead to Sam somehow, but the question is dangled each time, slowly moved along, keeping the reader wondering about them. Mike was able to get me second-guessing myself, so the payoff at the end was satisfying in many ways.
Even though I compared it to The Shining, there is a deeper sense of hope. There’s despair, danger, a sense of darkness, but it isn’t fatalistic. It is not dark for darkness sake. If a reader has a problem with some of the nihilistic stories out there, this book doesn’t have that type of effect.
Weaknesses: The early part of the book sets up enough information to catch the reader’s attention, but it is a bit of a slow burn early in the book. It took a little while to fully capture me – but it did grab me and really draw me in about halfway through. This isn’t a terrible weakness, but it wasn’t immediately gripping.
There are a couple of plot points that don’t fully pan out. One of them is too one-dimensional, not developed quite enough. Another major point comes out of left field, and left me with the thought of, “What was THAT?” I don’t want to give them away, and they aren’t major pitfalls, but they kept the book from the “Wow!” range.
Overall: The book is in the “that was a good read” range. I read some horror-type novels, but I don’t like gratiutous violence or language. This book is not for the highly sensitive, as there is a body count and some gruesome details at times. The suspense is more on a psychological level, not a gross-out level, and that’s the type of horror I can enjoy. I read his first book, The Hunted, which I enjoyed and saw his promise. I believe Mike is continuing to deliver enjoyable and thought-provoking fiction, and I can recommend Darkness Follows to fans of psychological suspense/horror and those who don’t mind some chills with their entertainment.
I’m not the only voice on this tour – see what my tourmates have to say by checking Becky’s blog for the latest posts. Tomorrow I want to touch on the idea of supernatural suspense vs. horror in the CBA realm.
Legal disclaimer/mumbo-jumbo: As part of the tour, I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.