Friday, November 7, 2014

A tale of childhood fears

In the Shadows of Children

By Alan Ryker

Publisher: Darkfuse

Pub. Date: November 11, 2014

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Alan Ryker is fast becoming one of my favorite writers of horror. He is one of a few horror writers that knows how to deftly balance terror with realistic human emotions. His books are often just as much about human relationships as being about the things that go bump in the night or, in this case, in the closet.

As in Ryker's amazing Dream of the Serpent, there is a theme about how the consequences of our our simplest actions can scar us for the rest of our life. It does not hurt that theme when the author connects a supernatural entity to that consequence. That fact still holds meaning for us in our natural world. In this book titled In the Shadows of Children, another of Darkfuse's long and exciting line of novellas, Aaron returns home for the funeral of his mother after a 15 year absence. He appears to have a great deal of guilt about leaving his younger brother 15 years earlier especially since shortly after that, his brother disappeared and was never heard from again. Aaron also seems to have forgotten a number of events that occurred before he abandoned his brother. In classic haunted house style there appears to be an entity in the old house that is about to remind him of those events.

Ryker in evoking a well known childhood fear here, that of the boogeyman in the closet. As children, most of us know the boogeyman and have at least a few memories of him being in the closet or under the bed. I like where the author takes us in his rendition of the myth. Yet I appreciate even more Ryker's understanding of family connections and what the severance of those connection can cause. For a short novel of about 70 pages, there is a lot of drama packed into it. The tale doesn't have the complexity of Dream of the Serpent yet it is still full with emotion and, of course, honest scares. Overall this would be a great introduction to one of the most promising horror writers in this generation.

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