Title: The Darkening Dream
Author: Andy Gavin
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Vampires
Publisher: Moscherato Publishing
Publication Date: January 10th 2012
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Review copy provided by the author in exchange for honest review.
The Darkening Dream is the chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.
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.
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, an attractive 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.
Let’s face it. Vampires are sissies, and have been for the last decade. Ever since the paranormal romance genre introduced us to the vampires in love with our heroes or heroines, vampires have been known as goody-two-shoes, true romantics at heart. We’ve forgotten the roots of these creatures. They’re not meant to fall in love or seduce our main characters. They’re meant to be terrifyingly scary, dark and dangerous, bloodthirsty murderers who maim and kill with a passion. No longer do good and evil overlapse in these creatures of the night. Instead, they’re delightfully evil, returned firmly to their roots in the deepest circles of hell. No sparkling vampires if you read The Darkening Dream, and to be honest, aren’t we all glad for that?
Not only did I find the sheer evilness of the vampires – evil just for sake of being evil, in some cases – utterly refreshing from the tame vampire characters we’ve come to know, I also thought this book offered an intriguing view on ancient folklore, and an unique approach to Salem at the beginning of the twentieth century. The main character, Sarah, isn’t exactly what you’d be looking for in a main character. She doesn’t have the typical attributes we usually seek for in a heroine. The turn of the century is a difficult era for the inhabitants of Salem. On the one side, progress happens more rapidly than it did before. On the other hand, people are keen on holding on to the past they’ve come to know and love. Amidst this constant battle between progress and tradition, one of the most ancient monsters this world knows decides to make an appearance: an ancient vampire, with his mind deadset on destroying everyone who crosses his path.
Sarah and her friends, twins Anne and Sam, become friends with Alex, a boy from Greece. Most of the book is written from Sarah’s POV, and other parts are from Alex’ POV. I liked Alex. He was different. Being a Greek immigrant now living in turn-of-the-century Salem, he had an unique look on things that I very much admired. I also liked his relationship with Sarah, and the growing attraction between them.
The Darkening Dream obviously isn’t something thrown together quickly to come up with a story. This is a bulky novel, well-thought-through from start to end, with an impressive backstory and lore. It wraps together vampirisim, ancient Egypt Gods, a magical horn belonging to an Archangel, warlocks, witches and more. Evil is delightfully evil. The worldbuilding is superb. The author obviously did a lot of research before getting started on this book.
It’s hard to classify this book. It’s YA, the main character is a young adult, but it’s not YA like we’ve come to known. It’s unique, even in this approach. The main characters don’t always act like young adults, and this book has such outstanding source material I have no doubt it could be enjoyed by young adults and adults alike. It’s too large to fit in one age category, just like you can’t easily fit it in one genre.
The only reason I didn’t give this book a five-star rating is that, at times, I found the narrative dragged a bit. I had trouble with some of the descriptions, and at first, I had trouble getting into the story. As soon as I delved further into the book, this changed though. It’s hard to get through the start, but this book gradually gets better, so don’t give up right away.
If you’re a fan of vampires or paranormal romance in general, try out The Darkening Dream. It’s new, refreshing, a major improvement from the YA vampire novels currently out there. It’s very dark, and definitely lives up to its name. There’s romance, horror, suspense, mystery, drama, a historical setting, memorable characters and a big bad you’ll never forget. I hugely recommend this to all fans of paranormal novels or vampire novels.