Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review - The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

The description from Amazon:
“Wonderfully twisted sense of humor” and “A vampire novel with actual bite” — Kirkus Reviews
Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs in Andy Gavin’s chilling debut, The Darkening Dream.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.

With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?

No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

Things I liked:
I have to say I am in awe of this author's writing style.  To convey the language and customs of the period (1900s) and still make it easy to read and understand is a difficult task.  I understand this is the author's first work.  I am envious.
And the research that must have gone into this is mind boggling.  The story covers Judaism, the Greek Orthodox church, demonology, vampirism, Egyptology, and 1900's Salem.  I learned quite a bit about all by reading this.
The characters were well written and I always felt I understood them.  Even the evil ones. 
The plot was well paced.

Oh, and I know this is a small thing but I do appreciate a book with no typos. You get a lot of book for your money here and I didn't find one mistake.  Obviously proofed and edited. 

The thing I didn't like:
This is a dark fantasy, historical in nature with young adult characters.  I was warned.  I think I chose to ignore the word "dark".  I didn't realize how dark.  Even though the title is "The DARKENING Dream."  So I think it is partially my own fault, but I was a little shocked at three of the elements:
-Graphic detail on the torture, killing of the first victim
-Twisted sexual relations of a pastor with a demoness
-Young girl touching herself (she was possessed by a spirit at the time)
After that, the tamer erotic thoughts and actions of the two main characters didn't bother me.
All the above are probably selling points to a different kind of audience.
I think the point is, that even though the main characters are young adults, this is not a  YA book.  I read it thinking it was, which was why the above was kind of shocking.
I think a little warning about the graphic nature would have prepared me better for the read - you know how some of the blurbs say things like "Warning: profanity or sexual situations type deal?

Overall, I'm not sorry I read this book. 

I'm giving it 4 of 5 stars = Liked it but not sure you will. 

Here is a link to the amazon page:

Oh, and an interesting note about the author: 

Andy Gavin is an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and histories, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes.

Find him at:


Note:  I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.