Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Book Review: When Darkness Falls by Chris Morrow

Chris Morrow’s When Darkness Falls is a thrilling, suspenseful short story that really makes me eager to check out more of Morrow’s writing. Set in the remote Ozarks, it tells a different vampire tale than most of us are used to. Instead of a “Dracula’s castle” type of creepy location, the setting of the Ozark wilderness is used, giving the story a different and more terrifying flavor.

Marty is having one last fling with his buddies before getting married and they have planned to spend a weekend camping in the Ozarks. The guys run into a group of sorority girls who are staying at the same campsite. After a day of canoeing and drinking, everyone gathers around the campfire at dusk…but when darkness falls some other campers arrive, including a creepy old man and his entourage of seductive “models” that can’t wait to sink their teeth into those gathered.

When Darkness Falls is a superbly crafted short story sure to delight genre fans. It begins with a hint of foreboding before jumping into the seemingly idyllic camping story. Morrow puts us at ease for the first part of the story, focusing on the fun the characters are having. When certain characters show up at sundown, though, the light-hearted mood suddenly turns somber and the tension mounts. The last half of the story is filled with fear, dread and plenty of suspense.

Despite the fact that is a very quick read, Morrow takes the time to develop his characters and offers us glimpses into their past as well as what they hope for the future. He makes each of the characters very realistic and so that they are easy to relate to. His descriptions of the surroundings bring the book to life and make us feel like we are there in the middle of everything. And yet he doesn’t over-explain, instead weaving descriptions into the story like he is painting a picture.

I also liked how the story stayed away from the typical vampire demises of crosses, garlic or stakes and instead went for something that doesn’t get mentioned in a lot of modern vampire books or films – running water. You see, ancient vampire lore states that vampires cannot cross running water because it was seen as pure, holy and able to wash away all magic. I thought the use of this little-known/little-used fact was quite inventive and made the story much more interesting than had it stuck to conventional vampire repellents.

When Darkness Falls is a strong, suspenseful story that makes me eager to see what Chris Morrow does in the future…

Available from Amazon!

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