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The Painted Darkness Hardcover – December 15, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A free prerelease e-book edition has garnered plenty of advance buzz for this fast-paced, satisfying horror novella from Cemetery Dance Magazine editor Freeman (Blue November Storms). Twenty years after a traumatic childhood incident, Henry has become a professional painter who uses his work as an outlet for his inner demons. Something from his past has taken up residence in the basement of the house he shares with his wife, Sarah, and young son, Dillon, challenging Henry's ability to "paint against the darkness." The narrative builds up to a conclusion that isn't entirely shocking, but it still makes for a compelling read thanks to skillfully composed prose that builds tension and evokes emotional response. The paper edition includes several eerie full-page b&w illustrations by Jill Bauman. (Nov.) (c)
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"Brian James Freeman's evocative tale about the dark corners of an artist's imagination is elegant and haunting. This beautifully designed book with splendid illustrations by Jill Bauman is a pleasure to read and a joy to hold." --David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Shimmer

"Spooky stuff!" --Richard Matheson, New York Times bestselling author of I Am Legend

"The Painted Darkness is a dark, terrifying, and deeply moving gem of a novella. Brian James Freeman managed to both scare me and move me to tears." --Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Keepsake

"The tone and building dread reminds me of classic Stephen King. Great velocity and impact, and super creepy. Don't go in the basement!" --Stewart O'Nan, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Country

"Wonderfully reminiscent of the quiet horror of Charles L. Grant, The Painted Darkness takes readers on a gently chilly walk though the forest of fears both conscious and subconscious. With Straubian lyricism, Brian James Freeman evokes not only the irrational terrors of childhood, but addresses the roots of creativity and the vital importance of art. A very impressive achievement." --Bentley Little, award-winning author of His Father's Son

“The Painted Darkness delves into territory that fascinates so many of us — the fine lines between beauty and horror, faith and fear, art and the unconscious. Both a wonderful allegory and a gripping read, Brian James Freeman has written a taut, memorable tale.”
-- Michael Koryta, award-winning author of So Cold the River, The Cypress House, and The Ridge

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications; 1st edition (December 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587672081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587672088
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,828,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian James Freeman sold his first short story when he was fourteen years old and his first novel when he was twenty-four. His novels, novellas, short stories, essays, and interviews have been published by Warner Books, Cemetery Dance Publications, Borderlands Press, Book-of-the-Month Club, Leisure, and many others.

His novella, The Painted Darkness, took the Internet by storm as an eBook during the summer of 2010, reaching more than 30,000 readers in the first few months after publication. The book was published in hardcover in December 2010 by Cemetery Dance Publications, with the signed editions selling out in just 24 hours. Due to overwhelming demand from booksellers, the first printing of the trade edition went out of print on the day of publication and Cemetery Dance rushed a second printing. The Painted Darkness was also offered as the "Free eBook of the Month" by in October 2010 and within two weeks it became the most downloaded title in the program's history.

Freeman is also the author of Blue November Storms, which was recently revised and republished, and Black Fire, his first novel, which will be revised and republished by the end of 2013.

His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies since 1994 including From the Borderlands (Warner Books), Borderlands 5 (Borderlands Press), Corpse Blossoms (Creeping Hemlock Press), and all seven volumes of the acclaimed Shivers anthology series (Cemetery Dance Publications).

He has four short story collections on the way in 2013 and 2014: More Than Midnight, Weak and Wounded, Dreamlike States, and Lost and Lonely. Seven Stories, an Amazon eBook exclusive short story collection, was the #1 bestselling story collection on in the US, UK, Germany, Spain, and France, and #2 bestseller in Italy, during the first week of February 2012.

Freeman is also the editor of the anthology Dueling Minds, which was published in 2013 as the 10th volume in the acclaimed Cemetery Dance Signature Series.

He's well-known in the Stephen King fan community for his retired website,, and his two well-regarded books of Stephen King trivia: The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (with Bev Vincent) and The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Trivia Book (with Kevin Quigley and Hans-Ake Lilja), both of which featured the artwork of Glenn Chadbourne.

Since December 2008, Freeman has been the managing editor of Cemetery Dance magazine, where his column "The Final Question" appears. His essays, columns, and interviews have been published in The Stephen King Library Desk Calendar 2009 (Book of the Month Club), The Stephen King Library Desk Calendar 2010 (Book of the Month Club), Jobs in Hell, Hellnotes, and Cemetery Dance. His non-fiction has been translated into French.

Freeman is also the publisher of Lonely Road Books where he has worked with Stephen King, Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan, Mick Garris, Stewart O'Nan, and other acclaimed authors. You can learn more on the official Lonely Road Books website at

He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, two cats, and two German Shorthaired Pointers. More books are on the way. Learn more about his work on his website,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By brownie on August 8, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition

Grade: A

Before reading The Painted Darkness, I had heard of Brian James Freeman before. He'd published (or is about to publish) a handful of books with Cemetery Dance publications, and is currently one of the editors of the Cemetery Dance magazine. He's gone by several names--James Kidman, Brian Freeman, and finally Brian James Freeman. (He says he's sticking with the latter.) But...I'd never really read him before. His other novella, Blue November Storms, has long been OOP from Cemetery Dance, and his Leisure novel, Black Fire, is stuck somewhere in the Everest that is my To-Be-Read mountain. The only work I'd read by him previous to The Painted Darkness was a short story, "One More Day", in Shivers V--and, to put it frankly, I thought it paled in comparison to the other talent held in that anthology.

Yet here in The Painted Darkness, Freeman has obviously matured much as a writer since my last encounter with his work. The Painted Darkness reads like something Stephen King would put into words; something that a well-renowned author who has had years to hone his writing would write. It reads like a master of the craft has written it.

Freeman uses the novella format to tell his story, switching back and forth between the present and the past. It works great; and because the story isn't novel-length, the constant switching never becomes tiresome.

The plot tells the tale of Henry, a man who doesn't realize just how much of his childhood is left inside of him, buried under several layers of fear and sorrow. That's all I'll say; since the book isn't very long readers should go in unprepared for what they're about to experience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Pete Partin on October 7, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Written in a style reminiscent of Stephen King, The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman takes the reader on a harrowing, suspense-building, and maddening journey into the mind and world of Henry. During the course of the ride, you will meet both adult Henry and childhood Henry as both stories, separate at first, become increasingly and seamlessly entwined as the book progresses.

Henry paints against the darkness. He doesn't know why and he has no recollection of the terrible and horrific events that happened during his childhood that led to his obsession. After an argument with his wife leaves him alone in the middle of a violent winter storm, Henry must face the monsters from his childhood that have seemingly and impossibly found their way into his cellar if he is to survive.

The Painted Darkness is a creepy, spooky, descent into madness that will have you turning the pages well into the night just as long as you remember to read with a light on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DENNIS J. CLARKE on August 2, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
What a great way to get to know an author you may not have read before. Thank you Cemetary Dance and Brian James Freeman for making the book available in these online formats. I downloaded the eBook pdf and then the audio so I could enjoy both. The beginning narration of the audio calls back memories of The Twilight Zone series and I could almost hear Rod Serling as the story began to unfold. The eBook version has many great additions which add another level of enjoyment for you, dear reader. Enjoy, and BEWARE OF BUNNIES WITH RED EYES!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By crack head on August 2, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Tim Martin says......You Will Not Be Disappointed so buy this book and read it!!! You will not be disappointed or bored...Well worth a read and well worth the purchase price.

For being a novella the author is able to paint quite a picture and draw you into the story. The ending did not feel rushed or cheapened in any way, which is sometimes the case, with short stories or novellas.

Freeman is definitely an up and comer and I hope to see more from him in the very near future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Horror Novel Reviews on July 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Brian James Freeman is primarily known for his small, classy press, Lonely Road Books, and as the Managing Editor of Cemetery Dance magazine. What most people don't realize is that this very talented man is also an author of speculative fiction. In fact, Brain is so good at the written word that he could give Stephen King a run for his money.

The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman is a short novel, but every bit as powerful in character development and cutting-edge prose as the larger tombs that are now being published by the mainstream houses. In other words, this little book is what I consider to be a priceless gem just waiting to be discovered by readers of horror fiction.

The story is centered on a present-day artist named Henry (no last name is given) and what happened to him as a five-year-old child when he encountered an evil so great it changed his life forever. As an adult, Henry has blocked out the incident from his childhood. The effect of it, however, is still evident in the type of paintings he does and in something he will soon discover in the basement of his old house on a cold, wintery day. The question for Henry is what is real and what is imagined? One of the reasons Henry is such a talented artist is because of his vivid imagination. Not all the things he sees are real, though it appears to him to be so. He will have to deal with this as he tries to stay alive long enough to survive the onslaught of evil that's raging through his home, seeking to finish the job that was started so many years before.

The Painted Darkness is the perfect display of how an author paints his own picture with precise and thought-provoking words that are weaved carefully together to enable the reader to not only smell the air, but to taste it as well.
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