Sunday, 9 September 2012
At the start of 'The Darkening' by Stephen Irwin, Nicholas Close is a happily married man living in London, when his wife dies in tragic circumstances, leaving him with an unwanted and distressing ability to see the spirits of the dead continually reliving the moment that led up to their demise. Unable to carry on any longer he returns to Australia and the dreary suburb of Tallong where he had grown up with his mother and sister. But as soon as he is back he becomes aware of the brooding presence of the local woods, which brings back memories of the brutal murder during his childhood of his best friend Tristram.
He soon realises that any hopes that he may have had of leaving the past behind are futile as another horrific murder of a child in the woods leads to long repressed memories flooding back about what happened on that fateful day when he and Tristram went playing among the densely packed trees and undergrowth and only one of them came back. Especially when he discovers that it was really supposed to be him who died. As Nick starts to investigate, he finds out that there have in fact been a string of murders in those woods, stretching back over a hundred years, where the victims have all been children.
As he himself comes under suspicion from the police as another child goes missing, he has to try and unravel an ancient web of evil that seems to lead back to the local shops and one old lady who who used to do sewing and alterations and also inexorably back to the woods. But how long can one person really live and what are they prepared to do to carry on living?
Nick has to dig deep into himself and find the courage to return to the woods to try and defeat the malignant evil that lies at its heart, before any more children have to die to keep it alive. But is he strong enough to fight the dark magic that is sent against him? And how much does his mother and other residents of the suburb really know and how was his dead father involved?
This is a book that combines horror with magic and the supernatural, with several clever twists in the plot. It is a real page turner, and one that I read very fast. Probably not one for readers with arachnophobia as spiders feature pretty heavily, and one of my few criticisms of the 'The Darkening' is that I found one aspect of the spider plot a bit ridiculous - but no spoilers!
Genuinely creepy in places, this is one to read under the bed covers with a torch, so make sure that you have lots of chocolate and crisps and big mug of steaming cocoa to help stop your shivering with fear.