Review by Tahlia Newland
June 26, 2012
The Darkening Dream is billed as a dark fantasy, some of it borders on horror and I found some aspects of it a little perverse. It has teen protagonists, but don’t for a moment let that make you think that this is suitable for teens, it isn’t. If the author intends it for young adults, then he either needs to prune back the gratuitous sexual twists in some of the scenes or put a warning on the outside of the book. It’s not the sexual content itself that’s the problem; there isn’t a great deal of it and it isn’t explicit, it’s the way it’s stripped of tenderness and woven in with dark magic that makes it disturbing.
Now that little rant is over, let me say that it’s an extremely well written story with finely-drawn, easy to relate to characters. The story moves along at a good pace, with just enough light and shade to make it satisfying, and there’s an unexpected twist before a chilling end.
From the blurb: 1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand. With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth.
The vampire in this book isn’t one of the charming variety we have come to know. This guy is pure, gut-spewing evil, and so are the trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods and the demon-loving Puritan minister who are trying to find Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days. Sarah and her friends find themselves right in the middle of a nasty life-threatening game, and though Sarah’s father is a rabbi with the power of God on his side and Alex’s elderly grandfather is a vampire-hunter, both hide important secrets until the very end.
What I really liked about this book was the way Sarah’s father’s Jewish faith held power greater than that of the warlock. The warlock mentions that he is no match for the rabbi, because the warlock consorts with mere demons, while the rabbi has a deity on his side. It was refreshing to see the words and rituals of an ancient religion credited with the magical power that is its due.
The main fault in the book is that the characters are set in the wrong time frame. They simply do not act as teens would have acted in 1913. No daughter of a rabbi would have allowed a boy to climb into bed with her, and no decent boy would have attempted it. The girls’ fearlessness is also highly uncharacteristic of the time. Some may consider this an insignificant point, but it was a glaring glitch in an otherwise seemingly impeccably researched book, and I see no reason why the story couldn’t have been set in modern times which is where the characters belong.
The book was too dark for my taste, but I’m sure many people will love it and I recommend it for the Awesome Indies list.