Brian Moreland continues to make a name for himself in the horror world with Darkness Rising. As he did with The Witching House and The Vagrants, Moreland has an uncanny knack of creating characters that are immediately likable and that’s an undervalued quality in horror fiction. The genre itself demands that you let go of a bit of logic and surrender yourself to the experience. This is easier accomplished when you are already on board with your protagonist. So, sit back and enjoy the ride that you’re about to take with Marty Weaver.
A sweet and misunderstood soul, he prefers the works of Shakespeare and words that are full of feeling. This lovely disposition makes him the perfect tutor for Jennifer. Despite Marty being singled out as “creepy”, Jennifer can see right through the gossip and it is through her actions and Mary’s words that we learn of his years spent going to the lake to share his deepest thoughts and emotions with it. By speaking the words in his notebook out loud, he gets some closure while speaking to a captive and non judgmental audience. Nature has always accepted him and he finds a special solace and solidarity in this, but this solidarity is about to be corrupted by a trio of people who make money by creating snuff films.
Weasel (Seth), Toad (Zane) and Rabbit (Tara) are fueled by alcohol, drugs and bad intentions. They care only about making snuff films for a brutal man named Razor so they can continue doing drugs and living a life long party. They have zero respect for human life and Marty has landed in their crosshairs. Before doing what comes naturally to them, they steal his notebook and begin to read his words aloud. The harassment and taunting they subject him to will soon come back to bite them in the ass in some truly gory and horrific ways.
A hopeless romantic seems like a poor choice to be the one who battles homicidal drug addicts, soul snatchers and his troubled past, but Marty uses the power of words in a really great way to take down his foes. Moreland has crafted some truly unique visuals in this book, my favorite being The Tree of Human Suffering. Darkness Rising is a bit Hellraiser, a bit Romeo and Juliet and a lot of signature Brian Moreland. It’s wonderful.