Tuesday, February 19, 2013

REVIEW: Dark Passage by Griffin Hayes

RATING: 3.8/5

Last night I had a nightmare in which I was chased by several freakish creatures. My legs wouldn’t allow me to run away – they felt like pillow cases stuffed to the top with wet cement. The monster in my dream was not the same as the one from Dark Passage by Griffin Hayes, but I awoke in the morning immediately thinking to myself, “I’m sure as hell glad I’m not Tyson Barrett.” Anyone who has read Hayes’s novel could easily understand why.

Tyson – our sleep deprived insomniac hero with a deeply unsettling childhood (of which we get a glimpse at the beginning) – attempts to combat his restlessness and stress by testing a new drug called Noxil which seems (and quickly becomes) too good to be true. Tyson must overcome his anxieties and his nightmares, face the inevitable end of his failing marriage, and fight a monster he’s been afraid of his entire life. It’s quite a lot to handle for one man, and it shows. Meanwhile, we follow the story of the young Dr. Elias Hunter who has just begun work at the Sunnybrook Asylum and, more specifically, on the eighth floor of said asylum – the floor that houses Tyson’s mother, Brenda, who has fallen into a coma. Hunter works to solve the mystery surrounding Brenda that would, and at some point could, "rock" Tyson’s world.

This was a fast-paced, easy-to-read, fun and creepy story that I definitely enjoyed and recommend (though I have a few critiques). I found the premise to be very compelling and interesting, but found the characters were slightly lacking. A lot of this had to do with dialogue – there seemed to be a lot of exposition going on, which I felt could’ve been better handled if it were done through action, or something internal, rather than spoken by a character. The dialogue just seemed slightly unrealistic. I also had a hard time believing some of the character’s motivations, particularly those of the secondary characters and even our main character, Tyson, at times. I found Dr. Hunter to have the best characterization – his motivations and reasonings were shown through action and internal dialogue based in (sometimes twisted) emotional feelings, as opposed through exposition, which I really enjoyed. I also found the “monster” of the story itself to be slightly silly (for a lack of a better word) – though I enjoyed the characterization of the monster; its connections to Tyson’s past and the references to houseflies and the smell of pine trees was really nice.

All in all, this was a good read and I’d recommend it to fans of paranormal horror. It’s got a good amount of gore and grossness to it; not overdone by any means, though it's definitely there, and there quite often. The twist at the end was really nice and made me reflect back on everything I had read so far with amazement; there were so many telling things that I hadn’t noticed (until the twist was revealed), which made me like the book even more. I enjoyed Hayes’s writing style and will definitely be on the lookout for more from him in the future.

Dark Passage is available on Amazon for $3.95.

***This review can also be found on Goodreads and Amazon.


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