This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

20 May, 2014

REVIEW: REAPING THE DARK


REAPING THE DARK
BY
GARY McMAHON

Pages: 74
Publisher: DarkFuse
Published: 20 May 2014

On the cover:
(From the publisher's website.)

A streetwise getaway driver…

A drug raid that ends in bloodshed…

A violent criminal hell-bent on revenge…

A secret order of occultists…

And something summoned from the darkest depths of nightmare.

Who will survive this long, dark night, and how will it change them? And what kind of horror will be born from the chaos left behind?

If the old adage is true and we reap what we sow, then only evil can be unleashed by Reaping the Dark.


   The prologue is your clue here. After that it seems like just another Heist Gone Wrong story for well over half the story's length. So let's deal with that part of the novella first.
   McMahon introduces us to Clarke, a getaway driver for a small gang robbing a drug deal. Things inevitably go wrong, this is how the story starts. We get an excellent Noir tale of the aftermath of the botched robbery in the opening of part one. This is Crime Noir fiction at its best. The dark underbelly of  a modern city is given us without any polishing, and the protagonist shows himself to be considerably less than an angel himself. The atmosphere is excellent, you can see a vivid picture of the grimy locations and really get a sense of unease as we learn what kind of life Clarke is leading.

   The tension is high in the first part of the novella, but when everything shifts to a Horror direction it is cranked up several notches. The tension from the Horror aspect doesn't completely overshadow that from the Crime Noir. Instead they feed off each other and amplify it to an almost unbearable level. This is simply a very tense read.
   When the story "switches tracks" it is almost disappointing that the game is given away by the prologue. But only almost. It struck me a little bit after finishing that some of the tension of the first half or so is actually created by what we learn in the prologue. McMahon has given us a little teaser, and then he makes us wau\it for a long time to see what is coming. Seen in retrospect it is excellently done, and it makes the Horror payoff all the more satisfying when it comes.

   I won't say much about the ending except that it does play on a familiar (, to me at least,) Urban Myth in a way that does not feel cheap. It does in some way make for an easy explanation, but when it comes it simply feels like it was the natural explanation.
   The very end of the story, before the epilogue, is excellent and chilling. It is not wholly unexpected, but it still packs a powerful punch.

   Overall this is an excellent novella that manages to create a near perfect blend of Crime Noir and Horror. It is not a very short story, but it comes with all the fat trimmed off. At no point do you feel like words are wasted.
   I will say that I think this is a novella that can be picked up by fans of both Horror and Crime Noir, and they will get a satisfying read. It is also a story I would not hesitate to recommend to any fan of SFF or Crime. McMahon has simply written a great novella that will give you a tension-filled and satisfying hour or two.

NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this from the publisher/NetGalley

LINKS: Gary McMahon   DarkFuse

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