A Red Dark Night by A.P. Fuchs

The story opens with a girl, Shelly, sleeping in a dormitory at a girls’ summer camp. She is awoken by the feel of something strange and liquid-like crawling up her thighs. This mass soon takes on a human shape and almost kills the girl, stopped only by the appearance of a mysterious man in a cape. With the opening scene forming a prologue, we cut to two decades later, and a girl called Mary, one of the witnesses to the strange characters. Mary returns to Camp Silverway as a counseller, to face the fears that have haunted her all her life. It’s not long before the blood-creature (known as a Bloodan) returns, and there are more than one of them.

The novel reads like a 1980s B-movie in print – deliberately so. The setting especially reminded me of Friday 13th. There’s nothing deep or pretentious going on. It’s just a blood-soaked nightmare that wants nothing more than to pull you along for the ride. On that score it succeeds. The story cracks along at a good pace, and there wasn’t a single moment of boredom. The plot is fairly unpredicable, with elements of time-travel thrown into the horror to keep you on your toes. There’s also a fairly good red herring thrown in, that makes you believe you know how the heroes are going to escape, but the author chooses to take the story elsewhere. (Bit of a shame though, because it’s a damn good red herring.) The time-travel paradoxes unfortunately had my head in a bit of a spin by the end of the novel, and I couldn’t quite make sense of all the events.

The characters are believable for the most part, with the exception of a few moments when I felt the author mis-stepped. First, the opening scene with the stuff crawling up the girl: I think the universal reaction would have been to leap out of that bed for your life, but instead she keeps very still. In another early scene, Mary says to Tarek (the guy in the cloak), “Hold me,” and it feels so out of place because they barely know each other at this stage. But these are just moments, and they don’t really spoil the overall experience of the story.

One element of the book which raised an eyebrow with me was its one sex scene. Not only is the sex depicted in great detail, but the sudden appearance of a Bloodan turns the whole scene on its head, giving way to one of the most gruesome death scenes I have ever encountered. Normally I wouldn’t bat an eyelid, but I happen to know that A.P. Fuchs, like me, is a Christian, and I found it difficult view this kind of writing as compatible with our beliefs.

The novel is self-published by Fuchs’s own company Coscom Entertainment. Kudos to him for going this way; I am a big defender of the self-publishing route, especially when the author chooses to do all the work himself, instead of using one of the existing print-on-demand publishers. The typsetting is well laid out for the most part, but there were a couple of glaring errors which I found hard to forgive, as they could only have resulted from a less than thorough check of the final proofs. Also, despite the book being edited by a third party, many grammatical mistakes remain.

Overall, I had an enjoyable time with this novel.


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