The Blackening: Seán O’Connor
Reviewed By Steve Stred
When he announced ‘The Blackening‘ I was very intrigued. Iceland has always captured my imagination, much like Russia/Siberia, so to have a horror book set in that location from an author of his calibre had me bristling with anticipation. I pre-ordered the ebook and was very happy when Sean released it early!
What I liked: ‘The Blackening‘ introduces us to disgraced Police Officer Ward, sent to Iceland to work away in obscurity after committing an offence. While there, a tourist is attacked in a cave and the events don’t seem to add up.
‘The Blackening‘ is absolutely a pedal-to-the-metal full tilt adventure. It’s also a horrendous book to review because all of the stuff I loved and the stuff I’ll mention that I didn’t all add up to be spoiler upon spoiler.
I will say, the black sludge that he’s made the key point in the cave was a great villain, one that was unpredictable when it was involved.
What I didn’t like: ‘The Blackening‘ for me at least, felt incredibly rushed and at times infuriating when decisions were made. There was a sex scene near the start that came out of nowhere and had me scratching my head as to why it happened and did I miss the lead up to it? It sucks because I really can’t go into details due to spoilers, but the core reason for much of the ‘why’ was ultimately thrown away in a paragraph near the end. At times the book couldn’t really decide what it wanted to be. Was it a cosmic horror story? Thriller? Invasion? Folk-horror? There are certainly elements of each but ultimately none stepped to the front and took hold.
Why you should buy this: As I mentioned, O’Connor really does create a full scale, action-adventure read here. It reminded me at times of ‘Antarctic Ice Beasts‘ from Hunter Shea, where there are always more things coming and things get worse the deeper you go underground. For many, this will be a one-sit reading, which is always a bonus. If you want to know just what’s happening in that cave in Iceland, O’Connor will tell you, even if you might not make it to the surface ever again.
When a young woman goes missing near the sleepy Icelandic village of Vík, police inspector John Ward wants to cancel the Northern Lights Festival after his sole witness describes the kidnapper as a “Shadow”. However, police commissioner Kári Ingason overrules him, fearing the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the village. Scientist Rakel Atladóttir and her peculiar assistant Rúnar offer to help Ward investigate the disappearance, plunging the trio into a fight for survival, with the fate of humanity in jeopardy against a malevolent cosmic horror…
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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