I am Death. I know who you are...
There is darkness and madness in each of us. We must do battle with our own demons.
What if those demons opened the door in the back of your mind and stepped out. What if they became real? If the night, the shadows, the reflections and Death himself walked among us? And what if they were watching you? Waiting? Thirsting...?
Dark Places. Thirteen stories. Thirteen poems.
Shaun Allan's obsession with all things dark bears strange and frequently hilarious fruit in this compilation of stories interspersed with poems.
The book opens with the poem "Mmmm," a commentary on life by a man who wishes that he could 'DO' instead of just 'going with the flow' but lethargy owns him--he's unable to make the effort.
The first short tale is "I am Death". It details a day in the life of the Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper has been at his job for quite a while now, and is becoming rather bored with with it. Death writes bad poetry--"To live is to die, To smile is to cry"--and knows in his heart he should stick to his day job and leave poetry to those with, well, a soul.
This book is full of little snippets and jewels of dark prose and self-mocking humor. "This Night", a poem that sheds a little light into the authors own psyche, showing us the anxiety that lurks just below the surface of our precarious modern lives. "This night is safe. This night..."
"Dark Places", a longer tale, details the mental state of a man who finds himself. Literally.
"The Last Dance" is one of the shorter pieces, but is incredibly moving.
"Patient Solitude" details love, loss, two men and living with the memories of one woman's last moments.
All through this book, interspersed with the horror, is the shockingly honest humor that Shaun Allan is famous for, shedding light on our own fears and frailties.
But my FAVORITE tale is the creepy, "House on the Moor." Let's just say it brings a new level to the dangers of dipping into the real estate market.
I was privileged to be an editor on this book, so this review is a bit of nepotism on my part, but I've been a fan of Allan's since I first read his monster-piece, "Sin", a deep, dark novel of one man's madness. It was such a pleasure, to be allowed to work with an author of this caliber. Allan's prose is beautiful and harsh, opening doors into our own psyche we may wish we'd never entered. All in all, this is an excellent book for a cold winter's day, safe by your fire with a cup of cocoa.