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Thursday, 1 December 2016

An Other Place by Darren Dash - Book Review

4/5 Stars

There is An Other Place...

where time and space are fluid...

where the moon changes colour and savage beasts run wild...

where love is a perilous proposition and the dead are swiftly forgotten...

where sandmen offer sanctuary and the Alchemist rules over all.


Edition: Kindle
Pages: 227
Chapters: 21
Publisher: House Of The Damned

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Welcome to An Other Place, an eerie environment that examines existence in excruciating detail. You'll form questions that no one can answer; make connections that never last; live a life never to be remembered; and don't forget the deadly changes of the moon, when nightmares become a reality only a sandman can save...

(Please be warned that as a resident of An Other Place, all these disclaimers of our culture will swiftly slink away from your memory, despite how important they are. Enjoy your stay!)

So I was gifted an early copy of this novel by author Darren Dash (also known as Darren Shan, but tell no one). I did plan on having a review done and dusted and declaring my undying love for any mind-tantalising work that births itself from this author's brain, but life rarely seems to give you a break, especially on the run up to Christmas.

But, alas, here I am. With An Other Place's release (pick it up on Amazon, folks, link up top), I knew I just had to make the time, and make the time I did. This entry to Shan's adult collection carries the same flavour many of his other novels do: A dark world with dark characters, dark actions, dark questions and even darker answers that really don't answer anything. Intrigue and mystery abound, and the world's similar yet vastly different nature to our own will definitely unnerve the hell out of you.

Synopsis

There is An Other Place... where time and space are fluid... where the moon changes colour and savage beasts run wild... where love is a perilous proposition and the dead are swiftly forgotten... where sandmen offer sanctuary and the Alchemist rules over all.

When Newman Riplan's flight into the unknown turns into a nightmarish slide between worlds, he must explore an unnamed city where unpredictable terrors are the norm. By the end of his first day adrift, his life has spun completely out of his control, but the most mind-twisting and soul-crushing revelations are only beginning. As he desperately searches for a way out, he starts to realise that the city isn't in the habit of releasing its captives.

And it seems to have a plan for him...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

An Other Place is a quirky horror that delights and disgusts with aplomb. It begins with setting a salacious tone that quickly has you wondering whether or not this kind of story is for you. I had the same experience with Dash's The Evil And The Pure, so I knew to push past my hesitation, and, boy, am I glad.

Have any of you ever played the horror game Silent Hill? (If you haven't, why? Try to grab one of the first three, you're in for an amazingly terrifying experience.) Well, An Other Place's atmosphere instantly took me to that emotional place. It has a similar vibe, where a strange, incomprehensible place so similar to reality is different enough to destroy your sanity. And I think that's where this novel excels. The world is just enough like ours that when Dash throws in his fascinating imagination it's always a surprise.

There's action and adrenaline, but An Other Place thrives on its attempt to ask existential questions that have simple answers yet can never be answered at all. 

The mystery is mind-boggling, and one that works for and against the story. My only misgiving for the novel comes in its meandering steps. There's a lot of contemplation and subtle themes that in some areas it comes across as pointless, which I think is the point.

Am I losing you yet? I have thoughts I understand, but getting them out and comprehensible is becoming impossible (I've been away for a while, too, so forgive me).

An Other Place is a creepy supernatural tale of the individual and life. It plays on selfishness and consequences, humanity and knowledge, and, perhaps most of all, the fragility and shortness of life and memory.

It's definitely a novel that has many facets of information, so one read likely isn't enough to fully absorb the novel's many messages. Luckily, the first read through offers an exhilarating experience, if a metaphoric-heavy one.

Pace - 4/5 Stars

Ever the master of keeping a reader enthralled, Dash has a solid structure that tries not to wander too far from its path. Action breaks up mystery and questions asked give the reader food for thought (just don't expect too many answers).

Characters - 3.5/5 Stars

This section contains a little contradiction, in a way. One of the main aspects that makes the story its unnerving best comes in the form of a simplistic cast. Newman Riplan, our protagonist, is the only character that has a tangible presence, while the rest are flighty and inconsistent. It's hard to explain if you haven't read the novel, so to save you from the rambles I feel creeping at the edge of my mind, read the book and come back.

Newman himself is a character that is deplorable yet someone who lives inside of us all. Dash puts him through the ringer, testing his sanity and faith, forcing him to make choices outside of even his dark nature. The story's hopelessness is embodied by Riplan, and even the reader comes to think that their protagonist cannot be redeemed. But Dash has an intricate and infuriating progression for his star, and while brutal and barbaric, it's fascinating.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

Dash is phenomenal when it comes to translating his vivid imagination onto a page. The world is built with unflinching foundations and the story is often sharp and scintillating. Perhaps most wondrous of all is just how on point the novel's black comedy is. Portrayed by a sarcastic protagonist, the timing is impeccable and the effect is definitely dirty.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

I have a feeling An Other Place won't be for everyone, especially fans of the author. It's a startling step away from his usual pieces, even though a few of those elements we love are there. Definitive is something this story is not, so don't expect solid answers about its purpose. Dash prefers to leave you with questions after having a thrilling ride that helps you appreciate those questions' importance.


For more Darren Dash reviews: Index


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