By Vincenzo Bilof
Publisher: Severed Press
Pub. Date: September 22, 2014
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Vincenzo Bilof is one of the more adventurous writers out there. His poem/novel, The Horror Show, was exciting, challenging, and beautiful all at once. It was a grand experiment which, for the most part, successfully merged poetry, Bizarro Lit, and horror fiction all in one package.
When I picked up Dark Rising, I knew I would be reading something different than The Horror Show. The plot appears to be rather mainstream. It concerns a rich celebrity, Ana Vivaldi, who finances a journey to trace the last voyage of her mother who disappeared at sea. She hires the two survivors of the doomed expedition; Whitmore the alcoholic captain and Nightingale, a man who seems to have an obsessional grasp on the reason the first ship was destroyed. It involves a suitably awful sea creature and much more. At first it appears to be straight forward horror of the sea monster variety. Yet we soon catch a glimpse of something else that is quite original and very surreal.
Bilof’s style is anything but mainstream. He cannot disguise, nor should he, his very poetic style of angst and dread mixed with a sometimes florally descriptive prose. Yet in this novel, that style tends to fight with the overall plot. The somewhat quirky narrative structure in the first half of the novel adds to the challenge. I found the tale quite different and rewarding yet I wonder if the mainstream horror fan, whom this seems to be directed to, would appreciate the challenge. It is a book that demands attentive reading and strives on detail. But there is much to celebrate. Bilof’s excels at the shockers. When we discover some of the side effects of the first voyage and the nature of the monster we can appreciate the author’s originality and skill of description. His characters are interesting, eccentric and well developed as we slowly learn the connections between each of them.