Author: Andy Gavin
Rating: O for Outstanding
Review: Think of Salem, Massachusetts and you would think of the Salem Witch Trials, but we aren’t in the 1600’s. The year is 1913 and tales of witches are long gone, substituted by those of the vampires. Aside from them being called vampires, what do these vampires have in common with those that we know of in today’s world? Absolutely nothing. When Andy Gavin went back in time with The Darkening Dream, he not only brought us to old traditions but to old rules. Farewell to the vampires that sparkle and fall in love with teenage girls and hello to the vampires who burn in the sun, sleep in a coffin and attack for pleasure.
Having received an email from Andy to review his novel, I was a bit hesitant at first. Vampires aren‘t generally on my reading list, but how many spoiled apples did I have to go through before I finally gave up? With each word he typed though, I became more and more curious. He revealed the fact that he was co-creator of Naughty Dog, and when I finally saw the cover for the novel I just couldn’t turn it down at all. How could this man, this creator of games such as Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter, create a novel about vampires to hold my attention. Not to mention he added Egyptian gods to the mix. A weird mix but yet I set off on the journey.
The Darkening Dream treats us to a dark story about a girl named Sarah who stumbles into some trouble because of these visions she’s having. With the help of Alex, a Greek Immigrant and her twin friends, Anne and Sam, she sets off on this terrifying adventure against an elderly vampire, a demon-loving Puritan warlock, Egyptian gods, all in the name of saving the holy trumpet of the Archangel Gabriel. While the plot-line might seem a bit of random and something on the path of comedy, it is the complete opposite. Never have I seen such an odd group come together so well and truly terrify me and the characters.
I absolutely loved the characters both the good and the bad. They were all written so well, with each of their personalities shining through on the pages brightly. From the very beginning, the story, the writing, the characters all seemed so fresh and new. From the very beginning, you become connected to these characters and yearn to learn more. They’re all written with secrets behind them that makes you want to bring out your shovel and dig a little deeper than what the author has given. He made me connect to each and everyone of them in their own little ways. Of course the credit is given to the way he writes.
Like I said before, Andy Gavin gave me this refreshing new story that seriously set out against serious competitors and set the table for them. I was completely surprised at how amazing the writing was for someone who was only a debut author. I immediately connected to the words and could not let go. I grabbed each and every word and let it sink in as the story formed. Everything from the characters, to the way they spoke, to the way he narrated their actions was just perfectly written to the dot. The mixture of the Egyptian gods in the end actually made sense and made one think that anything is possible and can be taken seriously. Even after being finished with the story, it still amazes me how well it was written.
To go a little deeper into the characters, I’d have to focus on the vampires because after all this a vampire novel. The way they were shown simply amazed me. I longed for a novel where I would get killer vampires who attacked for blood and kept to their old traditions of turning into fog and bats, of sleeping in their coffin and staying away from the sun. Knowing that these vampires had a rows of sharp-fanged teeth got me excited for who their victims would be. But when the excitement went down I realized, this put the fear I had of vampires back in its place. Reading in the dead of night with only a book light on and no type of noise whatsoever, I found myself extremely uncomfortable during one part where the 900-year-old vampire torments the characters outside of their home. Knowing that he couldn’t get in but wouldn’t leave them alone seriously set me on edge and even writing about it now I’m getting that feeling again. The fear of how I felt when I was younger had suddenly hit me and I had to put the book down for a few minutes and turn the lights on.
I’ve always been afraid of vampires when I was younger, all the thanks should be given to my sister, but with current vampire novels it became sort of a joke. So I thank you, Andy Gavin, for making that fear return again and for reminding me why years ago I had to sleep with two beanie bag babies tight on my neck. A simple childish phobia that had long gone is beginning to return and I couldn’t be more happier to welcome it with opened arms. Let’s just hope that there’s a sequel, especially with that killer ending.