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The Darkness of the Womb
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on June 21, 2013
This is an intriguing and original book, though the execution is not always perfect. The core of Knight's fantasy saga reminds me of Alice in Wonderland/Wizard of Oz, in that somewhat average characters are dragged from the modern world into a strange new land that feels more like a series of interesting set-pieces than a traditional high-fantasy universe. "Darkness" is grittier, occasionally evoking gory images and dealing with adult subject matter, but the spirit of the fantasy/adventure is there.

Knight does inject his own interesting spin on the process, bringing his pseudo-psychological theme to the Internal Landscape. Rather than hiding the symbolism in layers of metaphor, he places the symbols directly in the story: a demonic old woman in the Internal Landscape isn't symbolic of the main character's mother, it literally appears as his mother. This is repeated with varying degrees of efficacy throughout the novel, though often the symbols do not hold up to scrutiny. Because many aspects of the Internal Landscape are shared between characters who live there, it cannot ever really pull off being a personalized kind of "psycho-fantasy" for the characters, which I would have found more interesting.

There are some pacing issues in the story; the plot is often split between three or four viewpoints, and they are not equally interesting. However, I applaud a creative story that takes risks, and hope to see more from the author.
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on May 29, 2015
I received this book from the author as part of the goodreads free giveaway program, and I'm glad I did. Otherwise, I may never have discovered this fresh new face in fiction. Richard B. Knight delivers an intriguing novel with a distinctive take on love, loss, and redemption.

Marigold and Jeff Haunt had been married for 28 years, and during that time had tried to have children regularly. Unfortunately, the two times Marigold did conceive ended in miscarriage. The one thing that never ended was the Haunt's love for each other, in fact they were more in love with each other after all that time. That's why when Marigold, at age 49, conceived again, both she and Jeff were ecstatic. Even after Marigold lost her job and money became tight, both parents were looking forward to sharing their love with a new addition to the family. Marigold was just praying this baby made it to term. It was probably their last chance at having a family.

Jeff was having his own problems. Teaching at a dysfunctional New Jersey school, Jeff had only been working their for a little more than a year. But Jeff needed this job for the health insurance as well as being the sole source of income for his family. On one of the worst days in his life, a classroom accident resuled in Jeff being fired. So many emotions running through his mind, Jeff was just glad he still had Marigold and the baby. Upon returning home, Jeff discovered Marigold had suffered an accident and was in a coma, making Jeff's day from hell complete.

Once in the coma, Marigold entered the landscape, a place where babies reside before they are born and others come to resolve issues in their life before they move on. Human emotions, such as Imagination, Instinct, Logic, Purpose, and Love, take on human form. In this strange new environment, Marigold learned that her son Aiden did not want to be born. With the help of the Instinct persona, Marigold must find her way to Aiden and convince him to be born.

This book was the most unique description of birth and death that I have ever read. The descriptions of the landscape and personification of human emotions are among the most unique things I have ever read. The book did seem to drag a bit in places, but my desire to find out what would happen to the main characters kept the pages turning. It was a quick read, with short chapters and plenty of places to stop until next time. However, as I stated previously, I just couldn't put the book down and finished in two days. A very solid debut for Mr. Knight, and I will definitely be looking forward to his next offering.
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on April 22, 2015
BLUF: This book contains well-built characters and a walk through a fantasy world consisting of characters that represent the embodiments of human characteristics. It is bit gloomy at times, but I enjoyed this book.

The Darkness of the Womb weaves our reality with the Internal Landscape, the reality we enter before and after life. In our reality, Marigold and Jeff are down on their luck. Actually, they are barely scraping by on Jeff’s salary. Jeff tries hard at work, but his supervisors are out to make the lives of their subordinates miserable. Marigold is unfortunately unemployed and very fortunately pregnant. Jeff and her have been trying, unsuccessfully, for children for a while now. Little do they know, their son wants to be miscarried. It is up to them to venture in the Internal Landscape to save him from himself and bring him into their world.

The Reality
My complaint about the day-to-day portion of this story is that it is filled with negative emotions/occurrences. These correspond with the story and are absolutely supposed to be there, but, as a reader, I don’t like to feel depressed by reality. Let’s just say that I prefer my reality to be written a little less realistically.

Putting that aside, I enjoyed the main characters here. The more the story uncovers about the lives and characteristics that create the characters, the more you enjoy them. They were real people (well built) and I connected with them quickly. Steve becomes the main character in this realm. He’s an odd duck, but very likable.

The Internal Landscape
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the fantasy portion. (Fantasy is far from my preferred genre.) Knight’s personification of instinct, logic, purpose, love, and lust is brilliant. The conflicts and confusion between these characters will keep you entertained and intrigued.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It leaves you wondering, “What’s next?” without feeling robbed of an ending. (AKA, It’s tied up nicely, but leaves room for a sequel.)
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on September 25, 2014
Darkness of the Womb by Richard Knight is a masterful tale that sends the reader down a metaphysical journey that will leave one pondering about the narrative for hours after the last sentence.

It's a tale about the unknown; a surface read would offer a journey into life after death (or by chance a stasis of purgatory, trapped between life and death) where the protagonists accompany and battle the very facets of what builds up the human condition (que the personified characters that represent imagination, logic, instinct, etc) A deeper read will find a plethora of sublevel reads, religious, mother/child journey, or even a higher concept of the mechanics of the human soul, etc.

No matter what you think your going to get with the Darkness of the Womb, you will probably find out there is a lot more to it as well. It's like an onion, layer after layer of themes.

The Review:
Knight's tale is dark, at times it's twisted with images of horrific monsters that leave strange images almost stained on the reader's brain. When it comes to pure enjoyment of the book, I would definitely rate this as a top notch four (almost a five star outing). If you enjoy a book that isn't all flash and pizazz, but offers a serious deeper meaning to tell, this book is for you. If you're only into books for their surface read and want excitement then, sure, this book works well with that too. The physical journey of the protagonists showcases Knight's talent with creating fantastical realms illed with adventure and actions. However, the heart of the narrative is meant to linger on your brain and make you question life, death, and even the miracle of birth, if you take the time to read between the many lines the author offers you.
Give this book a shot! You won't regret.

Critique:
This book stands alone in a sea of independent authors as far as Knight's ability to write crisp clean, and often times haunting prose. This by far is one of Knight's strongest points as an author, focusing on the mechanices, i.e. lexicon and syntax, the book hits hard. Sentence flow and dialogue are dead on. Knight doesn't try to prove he is a wordsmith by using fancy language or complicated sentence structures. No, he proves his is an above-average writer by using the quickest and leanest amount of words to paint beautiful and descriptive images. This is not an easy talent to have, and it takes years to perfect. Knight is one of the few who, in my opinion, masters the art.

From a narrative stand point, we'll start with what works:
The dual layer of worlds Knight creates is fantastic and interesting. It creates a foil that allows the narrative to venture off into the dark fantasy world where many of Knight's most wickedest creations come to fruition. It also allows Knight to cement the reader into the real world where the two lands marry beautifully togther. This connection, for the most part, works very well and is extremely interesting.

For as much as I liked the story itself, there were things that I think could have been implemented stronger.
I spoke in length about how much I loved the setting (Knight's world building). However, it almost had a negative effect on the story. It was far more interesting than any of the characters Knight centralized the realm around. Marigold and her husband Jeff were too dull. There was simply no juxtaposition between the two, the entire narrative's juxtaposition stems from their missing child, and as far as their relationship went, they were old, tired, poor, but they had love, even if it was a bit stale. It just didn't work, and when certain events pan out (spoiler alert) like Jeff's death, it felt so anti climatic. I just didn't care, it evoked no emotional connection, and I didn't quite feel it from Marigold either. Sure, she wanted revenge, but beyond the revenge it fell flat.
Jeff and Marigold needed further development. They needed more at stake, they needed to be a bit more flawed in their relationship.

The way the narrative creates itself, they never feel all that important, either. They were just pawns in a bigger game never playing a big enough roll in the world to matter. It was like they were the car we rode in through this magical world watching all the cool stuff happen around us. Mere vessels to carry us around, offering little else.

Now, here's the catch, you can have a lame world with little setting with two masterfully created characters and write an astounding book that people will adore. Or, you can have an astounding world with lackluster characters and have a book that misses its potential. Darkness of the Womb falls in the middle.

Things I loved:
-Knight's style, simple yet haunting prose.
-The multi layered world, personified human traits as characters, and the horrific monsters Knight creates
- The metaphysical journey, pondering the inner workings of the human condition, birth, etc.

Things that didn't work:
-Marigold and Jeff mere pawns, flat characters who feel like they're just along for the ride.
- The setting often times took precedent over the actual characters.
- Logic, Imagination, Instinct at times became confusing to follow.

But I digress, because at the end of the day, when I read the last page of Knight's Darkness of the Womb I was left feeling fulfilled. It was a fun read and I LOVED the world created, the concept of the spiritual realm Knight created. I would definitely tell friends to give this book a shot.
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on July 1, 2013
In Greek mythology, Orpheus took a trip to the underworld to save his true love. The heroine of Rich Knight's novel, "The Darkness of the Womb" takes a similar journey into the subconscious of her unborn child. Fans of the horror genre will find plenty to like here. Some of the scenarios are genuinely scary. But even as only an occasional horror reader, I found enough plot twists and realistic human detail in Knight's story to hold my attention. His book could be read as a metaphor for all the convoluted emotional steps experienced by expecting parents. My main criticism of the novel is that Knight takes the time to explain everything that is happening in his story which interfered with my sense of wonder. A writing instructor once wrote on one of my papers, "Show me, don't tell me." That would be my advice to Knight. Otherwise, "The Darkness of the Womb." created a creepy, fascinating world. It is a strong debut.
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on June 24, 2013
Well-written and engaging, you feel the mother's terror, the father's pain, and the onlooker's bewilderment. This is one of a few "psychological" books that I've read and actually finished.

It's not a long book, nor is it so complex that you are left rereading parts to figure out what is going on. I am glad I read it, even though it is not my typical genre of book. I read half in one sitting, and finished the rest the next day.
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on July 10, 2013
This novel intrigued me because of the title. Darkness of the Womb seems a little pretentious for a guy to write a book about, so I took the bait and read it. I was immediately turned off because I take Messiah mentions very seriously, but I pushed on and was rewarded. It is a fantasy that is not easy to put down. You begin to recognize some influences that the author is responding to. There are bits of the matrix in it and old tales of birth as well as urban school legends. Mr. Knight manages to take those influences and give them a sparkling twist. The story starts out in a dismal place and ends at a beginning. Although the characters are not people I really want to spend time with, the sub characters are people that are great. The book asks questions about who do you believe God is and how does imagination, logic, instinct and motivation play out in your life? Do you wait for things to happen or do you make them happen? This is an exciting first novel that could easily be made into a graphic novel, or a movie. One thing is for sure, by the end of the book, you want more. When is the sequel coming out, Mr. Knight?
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on November 22, 2013
The novel begins with a yet-to-be-born baby falling from the highest branch of the Tree of Life, in an attempt to commit suicide. Does the author have your attention yet? He had mine. Upon further reading we discover that the baby is suicidal because he has dreamed his future and doesn’t like what he sees. Flash to what would be interpreted as the ‘real’ world where his parents reside, and the lives of the main characters really start rolling downhill.

‘Darkness of the Womb’ written by Robert B Knight, is an interesting novel, reminiscent in its use of non-traditional character names and interesting character roles, of the work ‘Pilgrims Progress’. He takes on the concept of Messiah and gives it an interesting and imaginative fantasy twist. As a Christian I wasn’t offended by his interpretation, but I’m sure there will be some people who will find the story line offensive.

The novel is fast paced and at times felt like I was reading a Picasso or a Munch, which I enjoyed. Some scenes were a bit difficult to wade through due to extensive dialogue, but this is just my opinion and should not keep you from experiencing Knight’s interesting writer’s voice or this novel.
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on July 27, 2013
I enjoyed reading this book but, occasionally, I felt that the pace was interrupted. The switching back and forth between characters' viewpoints (as one reader mentioned) did not disturb me, but a few times my reading was jarred by things the characters said or did that seemed a bit inconsistent with their personality. (I don't like to give examples unless I give a spoiler alert, so accept this statement as a warning! One example, the father's suicide seems to be presented as an accident because he is just so exhausted - no pun intended - but later it seems to be presented as premeditated and is a cause for his wife's anger.) I liked the book enough to gloss over these instances (after flipping back to check them!) and read to the end. There were a few metaphoric gems I really enjoyed.
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on January 14, 2014
The Darkness of the Womb is a powerful and creative story about who is really in control and whether there is a fate or destiny. Like the previous reviewer, I saw similarities to The Wizard of Oz. I really liked the transcendent concepts of Imagination, Logic, etc. and the whole Internal Landscape although the dialogue and explanation of them was cumbersome at times. I thought the author's explanation of the Internal Landscape characters could have been cleaned up and not repeated so much. There are times when the fast-paced, frenetic action leaves you on edge, which is not easy to do with the theoretical world that Mr. Knight has created. The pure violence and crude dialogue reminds you that you're not in Kansas anymore. I don't read many books twice but this may be an exception because the elaborate world it created now seems so close to reality but is still beyond my wildest dreams.
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