Thursday, January 15, 2015

A tale of family grief and the supernatural

Cracked Sky

By Brian Eads

Publisher: Omnium Gatherum Media

Pub. Date: January 6, 2015

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 The strength of Brian Eads’s short novel Cracked Sky lies in the ability to express and illustrate strong and intense emotions. His story centers on Stephen and Shelly Morrison whose child was murdered. The author wastes no time in getting into the deep emotions involving the death of a child. Stephen is practically mentally comatose, depending on his doctor prescribed medications to get through the day. Shelly isn’t much better, disguising her difficulty to deal with the death of her child onto her husband’s behaviors. Stephen’s brother Josh tries to help but he is losing patience and his own drug issues aren’t helping either. He relays the news to the grieving parents that their child’s killer is dead but that does not relieve the pain partially because Stephen is seeing things. Things like his daughter’s alphabet blocks on the floor spelling out “Help Me”. It appears that the killer’s power to hurt goes beyond the grave.

Eads does an impressive job melding the issue of grief with a tale that involves the supernatural and the afterlife. I wish it worked a little better than it does. There are a number of reasons for this. The main reason for me lies in the character of the killer. Darryl is never thoroughly explained. He has powers that seem a bit pat and unexplained for the tale. I wanted more explanation for his supernatural influences. Certainly the main focus is Stephen but Darryl is too powerful a force to simply leave as is. Another problem is that this approximately 100 page story is too short. We are thrown head first into the Morrison’s dread and angst but never get a good grip on their characters. The characters scream for development and the plot screams for a back story. Finally, I found some of the dialog a bit awkward. The author’s strength lies in description rather than dialog. At least it does in this work.

But when the tale gets started, it moves. I mean really, really moves. It takes off in the second half when we are introduced to the nether world that Stephen’s daughter may be trapped in. As I said, Eads’ strength is his descriptive talent and that applies both to emotions and the ability to set up an “after world” unlike the one we are expecting. And there is that ending; powerful and fulfilling to the characters and the story. It is a powerful ending for an emotional tale.

So while I have my misgivings about the development and character, it finally paid off. I often felt Cracked Sky may have been a dry run for something bigger. I hope so because Eads has the ability and the sensitivity to write a powerful horror/fantasy story that sketches the boundary of horror fiction as well as scaring us.

No comments:

Post a Comment