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This Brilliant Darkness (Contemporary Dark Fantasy) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is loosely focused on Christine, a university professor, as she begins experiencing bizarre, inexplicable phenomena -- hallucinations, time warps, electronic devices giving her messages, etc. Her live-in boyfriend, Tom, and her new officemate/love-triangle-third, Richard, get caught up in the weirdness. There's also a monk, a teacher's assistant, a mysterious student and a slew of ancillary characters.
Then there's the villain of the story, Greachin, who has to be read to be appreciated. Greachin is the highlight of the novel: He's part alien, part demon, part Christine's worst nightmare. From the book:
He would come at her with legends born of fear, generations of death, plague, mourning, loss, confusion. She would buckle like a stalk of dry grain in a storm. She might fight, but he'd convince her that she was overwhelmed by something evil and holy, if not by his physical prowess than with his gruesome logic.
For reasons never clearly explained, Greachin is determined to destroy Christine. He lies in wait, stalking her, growing stronger. There is some back story for him involving a creature named Fengrid, but what I really wanted to know was, why Christine? Why is she so important to this apparently immortal force for evil? (For that matter, what was the point of the side plot with the monk who had visions of Christine and Greachin?) Few of the obvious questions in this book are answered.
Structurally, the book is all over the place. The timeline jumps back and forth, and while that may tie into the plot point of time travel, it made keeping track of the sequence of events challenging. It doesn't help that the point of view switches from character to character frequently, and it wasn't always obvious which character was serving as narrator. Having finished the novel, I'm still not clear on why the author chose to offer so many points of view.
On her website, Tash says, "It's a fast-moving story told from multiple points of view, and it doesn't dumb itself down, so you need to be a top-notch reader to really enjoy this one, I think." I'll take exception to the implication that I'm not a top-notch reader because I didn't like her book, but Tash's statement is helpful because she makes it clear her authorial choices were intentional. As such, I would expect her subsequent work (she's planning a sequel) to have a similar style. I doubt I'll pick up any more of her books.
Bloomington Indiana. Home to a couple thousand college students - and to the Greachin, a dark creature bent on stalking and destroying university professor, Christine Grace.
Christine isn't herself. Her mind wanders, she suffers from hallucinations and blackouts, strange messages and thoughts plague her, and she has an eerie suspicion that someone - or something - is watching her. Her boyfriend, Tom, and coworker, Richard are stumped, but her strange attitude paired with the appearance of a constantly shining star over the town lead the three to believe there has to be more to the seemingly unconnected events; especially when they all become targets of the Greachin's unholy power. Can they find their connection to the beast before it succeeds in destroying all that they care about? Are there others willing to fight? Or was their fate sealed centuries before they were born?
I was really excited when I first picked up this book because the author, Red Tash, compared it to Stephen King's The Stand, one of my favorites. I have always been a fan of multi-viewpoint novels, so that aspect didn't scare me away, but the "dark urban fantasy" tag left me uneasy. I have read too many books in the fantasy genre that didn't live up to my expectations, so I wasn't sure what to expect from This Brilliant Darkness. I am glad that I didn't let that deter my attentions, because this book is fantastically well-written, fast-paced, detailed, and full of sinuously dark curves. I was thoroughly drawn to the characters, including the Greachin, unwilling to put down the book for fear that I would destroy the building tension. Each cleverly-titled chapter led me deeper and deeper into Christine's new reality. The character development was top notch, enabling me to sympathize with the characters; and their relationships/personalities were strikingly realistic. I enjoyed reading about Christine's relationship with Tom, Richard, and Tristan from each of their perspectives. Red Tash has a way of making her characters stand out when it's their turn to speak; the viewpoint changes were not choppy, and I did not find the change-overs at all confusing. In the like, the dialogue was smart, modern, and engaging, with a good overall flow. I would not change anything about it, except the ending - I wish there was more to it, but maybe there's more to come? I hope so. Recommended to college-age adults and older who relish a great fantasy/horror novel that will leave them craving more.
Rating: On the Run (4/5)
* I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.