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Monday, October 8, 2007

"Eat the Dark" by Joe Schreiber

Order “Eat the DarkHERE

Recently I mentioned how I missed reading horror. Well thankfully it’s October, which means Halloween, which means lots of new horror releases for me to sink my teeth into :D So next on my list is a book that I’ve been anticipating for a while now—“Eat the Dark” by Joe Schreiber. Another newcomer to the horror scene, Mr. Schreiber scared the shit out of a lot of readers last year with “Chasing the Dead”, the author’s excellent debut. In his sophomore effort “Eat the Dark”—title inspired by Ray Bradbury’sSomething Wicked This Way Comes”—Joe delivers another horrifying page-turner…

Hospitals in general are pretty scary. I mean I’ve always been creeped out by them. So imagine if you will that you’re in an abandoned hospital, it’s nighttime, there’s no power, and you’re trapped with a well-documented serial killer on the prowl. That’s the basic setup for Mr. Schreiber’sEat the Dark”. Not the most original or complicated premise I know, but there’s plenty of surprises along the way and for the six unfortunate individuals—Mike Hughes, his wife Sarah, their son Eli, security guard Steve Calhoun, MRI tech Jolie Braun and Dr. Edward Walker—who find themselves in that situation, it will be a night of terror that will never be forgotten, if they even survive that is. For the reader, it’s one hellishly good time :D

The first thing you’re going to notice when picking up “Eat the Dark” is how compact it is. 208 pages doesn’t seem like much, but trust me, the book packs quite a punch. Some of that is due to events taking place over the course of a few hours, which automatically increases the novel’s level of immediacy. Mainly though it has to do with the way the book is written. Chapters are extremely short usually ending on tiny cliffhangers; narratives ricochet from one perspective to the next with increasing velocity; and very little time is wasted on set-up, exposition or character development. Basically, from the outset we’re in the hospital, characters are introduced, little details about their lives are revealed—Steve is an alcoholic, Mike’s a cheater, Sarah has really good hearing, Jolie is a slut, et cetera; and the plot is underway. Before you know it, serial killer Frank Snow is on the loose, bodies are falling and the real fun has begun…

Descriptively, Joe Schreiber is a very visual writer and for me, reading the book was like watching it come to life on the big screen. In fact, as far as structure, tone & pacing, “Eat the Dark” is constructed very much like a movie and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if someone comes along and options the novel for film adaptation if it hasn’t been done already.

On the negative side, I just had a few minor bones to pick with the book. First, I thought the epilogue was pretty generic, I felt the ‘big secret’ that one of the characters shared with Frank Snow was underwhelming, and the whole deal with Mike & Sarah being brought closer together at the end was just a little cliché ;) My biggest concern though is that “Eat the Dark” shares a lot of similarities with “Chasing the Dead”—serial killers who like to make their victims follow instructions; young children placed in terrifying situations; the books’ diminutive lengths & short timeframes; how history plays a role in the story; the mixing of horror, thriller, mystery & supernatural elements—and I’m afraid that this might become an ongoing trend from the author. Hopefully not though and I guess we’ll find out with Mr. Schreiber’s next book “The Black Wing”.

In the end, Mr. Schreiber easily avoids the dreaded sophomore jinx with a book that is just as engaging and visceral as his impressive debut “Chasing the Dead”. In fact, possessing the ‘velocity’ of a Dean Koontz thriller and evoking chilling Clive Barker-like imagery, “Eat the Dark” is an even tighter, better written and more intense nail-biter than its predecessor. So horror readers everywhere, hang on because Joe Schreiber is here to stay…

2 comments:

Calibandar said...

really looking forward to the review of God's Demon, that seems like an awesome book.

Robert said...

Calibander, just finished "God's Demon" over the weekend. Very impressive :) I'll probably have a review up by the end of the week...

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