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Darkness, Darkness: Forever Twilight Book One

Peter Crowther

Artwork by Alan M. Clark

Cemetery Dance

US Hardcover First Limited Edition

ISBN 1-58767-049-6

Publication Date: 09-15-2002

165 Pages; $35.00

Date Reviewed: 11-04-02  

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2002



Horror, Science Fiction

10-08-02, 12-13-02

Some tales can be told quickly and with economy. Some must be told at length and in one sitting. But some are best suited for serial publication, with episodic portions released at regular intervals. It gives the material room to grow, to twist and writhe in the reader's mind. Dickens novels were often serial publications, and Stephen King tried his hand successfully in this format with 'The Green Mile'. Peter Crowther promises a lot but delivers only the beginning of a lot in 'Darkness, Darkness: Forever Twilight Book One'. Have no doubt about it: this is a great beginning, gripping, imaginative, bullet fast and rock hard. But it is emphatically only a beginning, and thus, as a novel, it rather misses the mark, not having an ending. But readers who like a great premise, good writing and excellent execution will enjoy this opening chapter of a story that plays on primal fears in an utterly modern landscape.

For someone who is clearly writing a long story, Crowther takes a lot of short cuts to get things going. Rick, Geoff and Johnny are hanging around the radio station at the tail end of Melanie's all-night radio show. There's a blinding flash of light that seems to penetrate the concrete of the studio. Then...nothing. The end of the world as we know has come, and the four friends have lived through the flash intro. They have to find out what's going and why. Their lives, of course, will depend upon it.

Crowther keeps close to the action, following as Geoff and Rick go forth into the world to see what, if anything has happened. Things look pretty normal, but it soon proves they aren't at all. Rick and Geoff are fine horror-novel heroes; they don't go down into the basement, as it were, without a flashlight. But, as it George Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead', there are some situations where smart moves won't get you very far. Romero's movie is a good pointer for where Crowther appears to be headed with this novel. There are some rushing moments of graphic gore and nicely detailed scenes of action.

But what's happening is clearly not supernatural. Crowther does a fantastic job of laying out a regular framework, setting up some essential rules to hint at the edges of what's going on. But he never even comes close to filling in the picture. The initial problems of surviving a global changes are addressed with style and toe-tapping tension. The outlines of the picture that Crowther will presumably be filling in are admirably well-sketched.

But 'Darkness, Darkness: Forever Twilight Book One' is clearly only the opening salvo. This might give some readers room to worry. Investing in the beginning of a series can be frustrating when the books are not regularly produced, and having started series that have literally never ended can produce reader rage as well as book sales. Cemetery Dance is the premiere small-press publisher now, and they've done well with F. Paul Wilson's 'Sims' series. The volume itself it very nicely produced; the illustrations are nice and disturbing, the layout and typeface are nice and easy to read. If you're willing to take a bit of chance, then 'Darkness, Darkness' is certainly delivers on its promise of providing a promising start to a potentially intriguing series.