Tag Archives: Dark Fiction

What Happened Here?

Sometimes in one’s life, you run across an author whose vision you see clearly, as if your minds are somehow connected across the vast expanse of the universe. The author’s voice resonates in your mind, the words he or she places upon the written page are the entirety of your hopes and dreams, your nightmares, your fears, your sorrows, your ideals, and perhaps the longing for a happy ending that you know your own life may not have in store.

For myself, that author is Ben Duiverman. The man has captured my soul, has given to me a mirror through which I can gaze and see the humanity that lies within with startling clarity. His writing is that of a fever dream, a never-ending kaleidoscope of terror, introspection, and eventual acquiescence that permeates my own thoughts each and every day.

What Happened Here? is a collection of seventeen stories, each of which ponder the universal questions that we all ask daily. Be it a question of duty, as in “The Sweeper” or “Lost Over Tokyo,” or the issue of culpability and its price, be it historical or otherwise, and its grip over our hearts, like “The Gathering Place” (the greatest story in the entire book), “The Battle of the Bulge,” “Never Late for Work,” or “An Unnatural Death,” each story resonating, building upon the next, constructing a wall of emotional bricks that, by the time you are done reading, is destined to be torn down.

There are inquiries into the depths of darkness that reside in the hearts and minds of each of us, such as “Trick or Treat,” “The Circus Is in Town,” “A Family Portrait,” and “My Domain.” And there are even those that cast a critical eye on society itself, like the deliciously haunting “Dining with Sharks.” And with “Bogeymen,” perhaps the most frightening of all the stories, the author paints (literally and figuratively) the image of the fate which may await us all, and illustrates with startling ambiguity how we very well may be the unwitting authors of our own demise. As in “A Two-Way Street” and “Cruel and Unusual Punishment,” selfishness leads to self-wrought destruction, the bane of man since the beginning of the human race.

This volume, published by the author himself, is truly a great and worthwhile read. It is a paragon of creation and subsequent deconstruction, a masterful work of art using the written word to tear down what we know of reality and to then build it once more in ways we may not have thought of before. Duiverman is a master storyteller, an author with something to say, whose own inner turmoil is laid out for the whole world to see, if we should be brave enough to take that leap along with him. Reading this was a unique and wholly rewarding experience for this reviewer, and it is my hope that any who stumble across this review will take the plunge as well.

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The Prodigal’s Foole

Podcaster, writer, and all-around good guy, R.B. Wood has released his debut novel, The Prodigal’s Foole. If you’re looking for a fun, fast read with a strong creep factor, this might be the book for you.

For the last ten years, Symon Bryson, a hard-drinking, snarky Irish anti-hero, has turned his back on his friends and his…uh, rather unique set of skills. Suddenly he receives an urgent message regarding his old mentor, and he grudgingly decides to come back, bringing his baggage with him. 

First off, Symon is a likable protagonist. He has the ability to use magic but hates every second of it. I dig the scathing sarcasm that hides a lifetime of secrets and pain, and some of the dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny. Symon’s constant reference to a mysterious incident of ten years ago was equal parts intriguing and at times a little frustrating until the reader is let in on the secret. I was interested in each of the characters. Wood built a world filled with the demonic, bitter ex-best friends, mystical old lovers, and—my favorite part—priests in Kevlar. The relationships between the characters are delightfully painful and intricate, and unfold throughout the novel, giving me several “Oh, cool!” moments. 

All in all, I’d suggest that you pick up The Prodigal’s Foole, if you want some fast, funny, dark fiction that doesn’t cross into the world of horror. It’s an enjoyable read with a satisfying conclusion.

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