Audiobook Review: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Brian Keene

12 02 2013

Darkness On the Edge of Town by Brian Keene

Read by Eric Medler

Audio Realms

Length: 6 Hrs 57 Min

Genre: Horror

Quick Thoughts: Darkness on the Edge of Town is moody atmospheric Horror tale full of strong characters and plenty of scares. Keene creates a recognizable story, set amidst a group of people whose isolation from the world reflects the isolation from their communities before the darkness came. Fans of Apocalyptic and Horror Fiction will enjoy this claustrophobic tale of evil, both human and otherwise.

Grade: B+

This may surprise you, but I haven’t always been the Zombie obsessed reader that you have the misfortune of dealing with today. It’s true. As a child, I was pretty innocent. The first book I remember reading by myself was The Bible, the King James Version in particular, which while having references to the dead rising, really isn’t a zombie novel, not even fast running rage zombies. As a child, I enjoyed books about kids crossing the Atlantic in large pieces of fruit, and I’m pretty he wasn’t escaping the zombie hordes but maybe grasshoppers or his parents or something. I read books about little houses on prairies, and not underground bunkers or fortified cities with murder holes to dispatch hordes of shambling meatbags. In fact, if you wanted to find someone to blame for my current states of obsessive devourer of Zombie literature, you can blame Brian Keene. Before reading The Rising. most of my reading choices were legal thrillers and detective novels, with the occasional Stephen King or Dean Koontz thrown in. Sure, I had been obsessed with Post Apocalyptic novels since I read Z for Zachariah in elementary school, but, at least at first, it was typical apocalyptic novels of Plagues, Alien Invasions and Comet strikes. Before reading Brian Keene, my apocalypses didn’t included walking corpses, undead animals, or even giant worms. That would have been ridiculous. Yet, now, here I am, devouring books about Zombies like they are some especially tasty entrails ripped from the chest cavity of my latest victim. Now, I’m sure I would have found my way to Zombie literature without The Rising, but, you have to blame someone, so I’m giving you your scapegoat, Brian Keene. Now, let’s talk about Darkness on the Edge of Town, because, well, it’s not about zombies. I promise.

On one strange day, when the sun fails to rise, the people of Walden Virginia find themselves cut off from the world. Now, in perpetual darkness, people within the town begin to give into their darkest desires, encouraged by something within the Darkness itself, something ancient and evil. One man, Robbie, a pizza delivery man, sees his world crumbling down around him and knows that something must be done before he Darkness takes them all. Darkness on the Edge of Town is claustrophobic horror at its very best. It has been far too long since I have read a Brian Keene novel, and I had forgotten what I really like about him. Keene’s world isn’t inhabited by super spies, or big time movers and shakers, instead, its regular people, thrown into horrible situations, who must find ways to rise above before they give into their darkest desires. Keene knows that there is evil in all of us, and that overcoming that evil is a constant struggle. His characters aren’t cookie cutter hero types, or even typical antiheros. They are your neighbors, and although you really don’t know their names or if they are good people, you recognize them, and either cheer for or fear them. Darkness on the Edge of Town is such an exploration. There is a segment where Robbie talks about Coming of Age Tales, how they are all set in small towns, where everyone knows everyone. Darkness on the Edge of Town isn’t one of these books. Keene uses the modern distrust of your neighbors, and the lack of any true sense of community to create an effective tale of horror. It’s well orchestrated, and actually quite scary, with the human evils on par or even surpassing the evils of an external supernatural force. A few fair warnings if this would be your first Keene novel. Keene rarely writes happy or even tight endings. He often will leave a lot up in the air for readers to think on, yet provide you with enough information to allow your imaginations to run wild. I personally think this is one of Keene’s best traits. He forces the reader to insert themselves into the narrative, and I think this creates a unique experience for each reader. Also, like Stephen King, Keene has a pervasive, multiverse mythology at play in most of his books. In many ways, it’s like a beautifully crafted puzzle, with each piece a work of art all its own, but together giving us a broader look at the universe. Darkness on the Edge of Town is moody atmospheric Horror tale full of strong characters and plenty of scares. Keene creates a recognizable story, set amidst a group of people whose isolation from the world reflects the isolation from their communities before the darkness came. Fans of Apocalyptic and Horror Fiction will enjoy this claustrophobic tale of evil, both human and otherwise.

Shockingly, this is the first novel by Brian Keene that I have listened to in audio. One of the reasons that Brian Keene’s novels have sort of fallen off my radar was my transition from the majority of my reading done in print to audio. I’ve been a bit hesitant to listen to one of Keene’s novels, because far too often narrators of horror novels are chosen more for their dark and eerie voices, than whether they fit the characters. With Keene, I think a dark ominous voice may work for some moments within the tale, but Keene’s characters are typically regular people, and not horror movie narrators. Luckily, with Darkness on the Edge of Town, I found narrator Eric Medler perfectly cast for this production. Medler became Robbie for me, infusing the character with a sense of authenticity. His reading wasn’t perfectly polished, because, being a first person epistolary narrative, it shouldn’t be perfectly polished. Medler added the right amount of affectations to his reading to make it feel like we were actually being told a story, and not having a story professionally narrated at us. I didn’t love all of his characters, and would have liked to see a bit more Southern Charm added to some of the characters, yet most of his characterizations were strong. I think he was especially strong in his voicing of Dez, a mentally unstable character who perhaps held the key to what was happening. There was an important scene, an interaction between Robbie and Dez that was perfectly handled and I found just enthralling. Medler has a limited library of titles available, but I do hope that is something that changes in the future.

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2 responses

12 02 2013
russell1200

Pizza delivery guy reminds me of Snowcrash.

17 02 2013
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I love the idea of the sun just NOT rising.

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