Dark Hilarity: Joseph Sale
Reviewed By Steve Stred
If you’ve followed along in my reviewing or writing, you’ll have come across my love of all things Joseph Sale. Not only have I had the fortune or blurbing his work, writing a foreword for an anthology he was in and beta-reading for him, but I’ve also been graced with having one of my own releases published through The Writing Collective, which he co-runs.
When a new Joseph Sale book is announced, it should be a cause for celebration. Sale constantly pushes the boundaries of dark fiction/science fiction/fantasy and his work is always epic in scope but intimate in emotion.
With ‘Dark Hilarity,’ a work Sale himself calls ‘the best thing I’ve ever done,’ Joseph has taken that next leap. The leap that will hopefully find him on more TBR’s, Best-Of lists and must-read author indexes.
What I liked: ‘Dark Hilarity’ is a story that follows two young girls, Tara and Nicola who find a common love of a specific metal band. Years later, a horrible event occurs that opens up the reality that maybe the lyrics from that old band had more meaning than originally thought.
Truthfully, my simplified synopsis doesn’t do this book enough justice. Where ‘Save Game’ was fully entrenched in the video-game/fantasy genre, ‘Dark Hilarity’ pushes us into the sci-fi and dark fiction worlds as well. It’s not that there are specific sections that showcase this, no it’s that Sale has mastered these genres so well that they flow through his veins and come through in each and every word he shares.
What I didn’t like: In a book like this you’ll inevitably scratch your head at a few decisions the main characters make, but for fans of these genres, I think the best thing to do is to put those criticisms aside and understand that sometimes things must happen to be able to move the story forward.
Why you should buy this: I’ve often compared Sale’s work to that of Barker’s and this is yet another example where that influence really shines through. Sale does a magnificent job of developing characters, fully forming worlds and making you feel and root for the characters as the book itself unfolds and expands.
Another stunning release from one of the best writers out there. ‘Dark Hilarity’ is absolutely Sale’s best release yet, one I hope many people check out.
Tara Dufrain and Nicola Morgan are eleven year old girls growing up in the ‘90s, obsessed by Valentine Killshot, a metal screamo band. In particular, they’re enamoured by the lead singer, the mysterious yet charismatic Jed Maine who bears the epithet “The Cretin”. In Jed’s lyrics, he describes a world beyond the Dark Stars that he hopes one day to reach. The girls think it’s all just make-believe they share together, until a freak, traumatic incident makes this world very real.
As adults, Tara and Nicola try to come to terms with the devastating catastrophe that changed their lives growing up, but to do so they will have to step once more into Jed Maine’s world, and confront the man who took everything from them.
Dark Hilarity is My Best Friend’s Exorcism meets The Never-Ending Story, a fantasy that explores addiction, depression, and the healing power of friendship.
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.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here