Darkness Rising: Brian Moreland
Reviewed By Steve Stred
After having just finished reading Moreland’s ‘The Witching House,’ I dove directly into his novella ‘Darkness Rising,’ excited to see what this one would bring.
Where ‘The Witching House’ was about two couples exploring an old house with a dark history, ‘Darkness Rising’ is an emotions based story about a man who has suffered horrific abuse, trying to find a place in this world.
I found that there were essentially three stories interwoven together and while I enjoyed this one overall, I think one of the three just didn’t really work that well for me.
What I liked: The story follows Marty, a janitor at a college, who one day meets Jennifer, a student there, and they hit it off discussing poetry. They end up spending a fair deal of time together, but because of Marty’s poor upbringing and horrendous history and Jennifer being from a well off family, he can’t bring himself to ask her out, for fear of heartbreak.
This aspect, this plot point, was the highlight for me. Moreland references Shakespeare a number of times, and while it wasn’t exactly the same, this plot loosely resembled Romeo and Juliet. We even had a few side subplots of a Senator’s daughter shaming them for hanging out together and got to see how the written word connected them.
The other storyline that worked for me was Marty trying to come to terms with the atrocious childhood he had. His father was a murderer and a rapist and we see how this has greatly affected Marty, not only psychologically but socially as well. Moreland did a really fine job of making Marty a character you rooted for and really wanted him to overcome his anxieties and have a life he deserved with Jennifer.
The ending of this one, the epilogue is powerful and poignant and will bring some readers to tears even. It was such a nice way to wrap those two plots together and I was so happy to see that.
What I didn’t like: Frankly, the extreme horror plot of the trio donning masks and killing people for the Serbian guy and ultimately killing Marty and having him return as a weird ghost-like creature didn’t work for me at all. I think if it had been pulled out and separated as its own story and was unrelated to the Marty aspect I would’ve really dug it, but within the confines of this book itself, just wasn’t for me. And how it got tied into Marty’s father really felt a bit forced.
Why you should buy this: This is a short, quick, brutal read, with an extreme horror story within that’ll make those readers happy. As for myself, I preferred the human relationship story and the dynamic between these two who were so different but were connected so well, that you just wanted to see them become a couple.
Moreland always brings the goods and this one was a fun read.
A violent horror story set in the pinewoods of Oregon.
Three twisted serial killers . . .
One emotionally scarred poet . . .
A night of unholy terror . . .
Marty Weaver has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him. And tonight, when all the pain from the past is triggered, when those secrets are revealed, blood will flow and hell will rise.
Steve Stred is the Splatterpunk Nominated Author of ‘Sacrament’ and ‘Mastodon.’
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Steve has released over a dozen novels and novellas as well as a number of collections. He has appeared alongside some of horror’s biggest names within some truly excellent anthologies.
He is a proud co-founder of the LOHF Writer’s Grant and an Active Member of the HWA.