Published by Hodder
Out now !
Now, I’ll start by quickly saying two things about The Dark.
Firstly, it cannot be read as a standalone as there is just too much backstory in book 1;The Dead that the reader needs to know before cracking the spine of this one.
Secondly – The Dark is such a great follow up to The Dead that you simply have to go and buy both books to be able to read them over the Halloween period for a bumper horror double-bill – you know, just like they had at the cinema in the old days…
And it’s a clear adoration of classic and modern horror movies that drives David Gatward’s great series, full as it is of clear and sometimes more subliminal references to genre classics.
In The Dead, we followed young Lazarus Stone as he began his quest to pursue his father, who in turn was seeking his mother following her death in a car crash through into the afterlife, as a keeper of The Dead. In this, the second in the trilogy, Lazarus is in deeper, deep into the Land of the Dead and into The Dark and, as the novel cracks along we see that he’s destined to pay a visit to Hell anytime soon (I don’t think book three’s called The Damned for nothing).
By throwing in comments about The Sixth Sense, Vincent Price, Hammer House of Horror and Stephen King, Gatward is playing the classic horror genre trick of saying ‘this is real, the other stuff is fiction’ in the same way that Sam Raimi did by having a poster of Jaws on a wall in a scene in The Evil Dead all those years ago.
Lazarus is assisted on his quest by best friend and all round horror geek, Craig, and by an unconventional angel, Arielle, who is constantly supping bottles of wine and seems to be an adrenaline junkie into the mix too.
He’s also aided this time round by a weapon – a spike which through thorn like barbs pierces his hand when he holds it, becoming one with the weapon – more than a little David Cronenberg in that idea I thought, but pretty sure it’s never been in a childrens’ book before.
This is a great second chapter in an exciting, horror-filled adventure tale which horror fans both young and old will get a kick out of.
Nice touch to have a short Q&A interview at the back of the book as well as a preview of the next book.
Can’t wait for book three: The Damned.
Keith B Walters