Ginger Nuts of Horror
There are certain books out there that are so immersive that they transcend the printed medium. Their narrative if so tight that the act of reading them makes you forget that this is a book you are reading. Drawn into it's plots and protagonists the book transform from a written story into a full blown assault on the senses. You begin to see the action unfolding in your minds eye, the sounds and smells of the story's landscape fill your head and add extra depth to the brilliant narrative. Gary McMahon's Reaping The Dark is one such novella. Combining gritty crime, tense siege, and chilling supernatural narratives into one lean mean beast McMahon shapes this novella into something special.
The ominous prologue introduces us to the dark and dangerous world of black magic, hinting at what to come,a Revenant has been called into to world. Tasked with a job this dark beast will not stop until it has completed its task.
Cut to the story's hero, Clarke, a getaway driver for hire, a man who likes to think he is in complete control. Brought up as an orphan Clarke is a man with very few ties.
"Never buy anything you can't afford to leave behind"
That's his motto, and that goes for everything, friends and family included. Those that work with him only know him as Driver Z. Only his partner Martha, and his confident / gobetween Oakes really know who he is. So when a drug deal on which he has been hired goes South, Clarke only has these two people to turn to. Pursued by gun toting crime boss and a creature from the abyss Clarke must fight for his very existence.
Remember those golden years of cinema when cool ruled? When Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen ruled the silver screen. Well Reaping The Dark captures that essence of cool beautifully. Clarke has the same ice cold coolness about him that made Dirty Harry and Bullitt so great. The narrative is so lean and perfectly honed it races along like a classic Dodge Charger. No word or phrase is wasted as McMahon steers the narrative to its ice cold finale.
In many ways the books reminds of Kill List. Both of them have lean, tense and shocking plots, and both of them succeed in that nigh impossible task of merging reality and the unreal. A lot of the time when books like this try to mix reality with the supernatural it feels forced, almost tacked on. Reaping The Dark, feels real, the two worlds combining effortlessly to create a narrative that just feels natural. Clarke's plight at rescuing Martha from the calm yet psychotic McKenzie, plays out perfectly alongside the Revenant and his shadowy masters the Order of The Dark Veil. And as for the ending, WOW!.
Reaping the Dark is one of the best novellas I have read in a long time. McMahon has always been one of my favourite authors, but with this book he cemented his reputation as a master of the genre.
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