Title: The Painted Darkness
Author: Brian James Freeman
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Author Website: www.brianjamesfreeman.com
Format: ARC Paperback
Available: November 9, 2010
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fiction category)
When Henry was a child, something terrible happened in the woods behind his home, something so shocking he could only express his grief by drawing pictures of what he had witnessed. Eventually Henry's mind blocked out the bad memories, but he continued to draw, often at night by the light of the moon.
Twenty years later, Henry makes his living by painting his disturbing works of art. He loves his wife and his son and life couldn't be better... except there's something not quite right about the old stone farmhouse his family now calls home. There's something strange living in the cramped cellar, in the maze of pipes that feed the ancient steam boiler.
A winter storm is brewing and soon Henry will learn the true nature of the monster waiting for him down in the darkness. He will battle this demon and, in the process, he may discover what really happened when he was a child and why, in times of trouble, he thinks: I paint against the darkness.
But will Henry learn the truth in time to avoid the terrible fate awaiting him... or will the thing in the cellar get him and his family first?
Written as both a meditation on the art of creation and as an examination of the secret fears we all share, The Painted Darkness is a terrifying look at the true cost we pay when we run from our grief--and what happens when we're finally forced to confront the monsters we know all too well.
The Painted Darkness is a fairly quick read, and one that did a reasonably good job of keeping my attention. Alternating between events of twenty years ago and today, The Painted Darkness slowly unfolds a series of events that shaped the entire course of Henry's life, while simultaneously telling the story of Henry's eventual confrontation with the demons from his childhood.
Read as both part ghost story and part psychological thriller, The Painted Darkness touches on many aspects all at once. The fact is, there seems to be a probability that the demons from Henry's childhood may, in fact, be real. Or they may not; they may be the result of Henry's extraordinarily vivid imagination. This is one of those books where I really think every person will take a little something different away from it, depending on how they want to perceive the events of the story. Personally, I think the story is about ultimately coming to terms with your own personal demons and finally putting them to rest, be it through your creativity (Henry is a painter, and he paints to get the dark images out of his mind) or some other means.
Like I said before, the story is a fairly quick read, and the flipping back and forth between Henry's childhood and his adulthood does a nice job of opening up the secrets of his past while at the same time showing how he deals with them in his present. This was a nice touch, that I didn't feel really overplayed the back and forth too much at all. The inclusion of what I'm assuming are supposed to be some of Henry's paintings was nice, but seemed lacking in some way. Maybe because they are in black and white (and maybe the finished copy will have them in color) or because they didn't always seems to match exactly what was going on in the story, but I felt that these could probably have been left out, and nothing would have been lost in the telling of the story. Overall, a nice, creepy little book that would probably be good to read on a dark and stormy night.