Friday, June 17, 2011

Mike Dellosso's "Darkness Follows"

Sam Travis is a carpenter and construction worker, trying to recover from a nasty fall and serious brain injury. He lives near Gettysburg, Penn., and he finds entries in a journal about the battle beginning to appear – written in his handwriting. He’s also haunted by a family tragedy in which his older brother died, and he begins to hear his brother’s voice calling to him. Sam Travis is a man descending into darkness and madness.

Symon, and that’s all he knows his name to be, is a man who can’t find his past or his memory. He kills almost single-mindedly, to remove the impediments to his mission. And his mission to make sure Sam carries out the task that’s been preordained for him.

And the task is Stephen Lincoln, a U.S. Senator who’s changed political parties and in the process embraced a pro-life position. He’s upset a lot of former supporters, especially because he’s being touted as a candidate for President. And he’s going to give a speech in Gettysburg that will likely launch his campaign.

Jacob is the imaginary friend of Sam’s daughter Eva, and Jacob keeps telling Eva to pray for her father because he’s going to do something really bad.

Sam is an expert shot with a rifle.

These four characters are the main storytellers of Mike Dellosso’s Darkness Follows, although Jacob exists through most of the novel only as expressed by Eva. And they tell a story of suspense, violence and the supernatural that is riveting.

Dellosso’s previous novels – Scream, The Hunted and Darlington Woods – effectively use elements of horror and the supernatural. With Darkness Follows, he’s moved to a new level. The writing is solid, the action measured but fast-paced, the story building toward an almost fevered climax (yes, I had to get up and walk around – several times – as the crisis point approached).

This novel is not what many would consider traditional “Christian fiction.” Several people die, and rather brutally, the descriptions of their deaths so spare that it increases the horror. Jacob is clearly a kind of guardian angel, actively intervening. Something is clearly controlling Symon, and it’s likely something demonic.

But there is also no question that the novel is shot through with Christian understanding and faith. It is not a conventional “Christian novel,” but it is a novel written by a Christian author.

Darkness Follows is a masterful story and a thought-provoking read.

1 comment:

Louise Gallagher said...

I have read Dellosso before -- and he is a masterful storyteller.

Another to add to the summer reading list!