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Friday, August 28, 2009

Out of the Darkness by Lesli Richardson

Out of the Darkness by Lesli Richardson
Publisher: Lyrical Press Inc.
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal
Length: Full (334 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Phlox

Ancient evil forces a woman to fight for her life - and true love.

Man may forget horrors, but the land remembers. Built on a cursed patch of ground, George Simpson's house of evil has ruined many lives over its hundred-year existence.

Author Steve Corey rents the place as an early anniversary surprise for his wife, hoping it might repair the deep rift his alcoholism has created in their marriage.

Before they moved to the Simpson house, Samantha Corey thought getting Steve sober was the hard part. But the house's dark nature has turned her thoughts to Matt Barry, Steve's best friend and agent...and her old love. Can they overcome the ancient evil threatening them all from OUT OF THE DARKNESS?

The carefully crafted beginning to this book sets the mood in historically-spaced vignettes which fill the reader with a delicious sense of dread and anxiety. These were so well done, I felt myself going into horror-moviegoer mode, wanting to shout at the heroine ‘no, don’t move into that cursed house- can’t you feel it?’ The idea of a cursed place, a geographical feature or area which gathers negative energy, allowing it to pool and fester, is not a new one but it’s certainly one that resonates with readers in primal ways. Most sensitive people have stood in a particular doorway or field or street at one time or another and shivered on the thought ‘something truly bad happened here.’

Ms. Richardson’s writing style is polished and smooth, at its best in descriptive passages of the park. A Florida native, the author has a gift for transporting the reader geographically, painting pictures of this part of the state in vivid detail. Her characters speak in their own voices, in words that ring true for them, and they have enough depth to draw the reader in on a personal level. I wanted to like them. Sami is a resilient woman, she’s put up with a lot more than she should have, Matt is the supportive, strong type and even Steve, despite his obvious flaws, is poignantly endearing in his struggles with his inner demons. Unfortunately, Sami and Matt’s choices, without giving too much away, disappointed me. Humans make mistakes, certainly, but I found it difficult to sympathize with Sami’s fury at Steve for hiding things from her when she had hidden things from him for years, and not small things like shoe purchases either.

Again, without giving too much away, the unusual beginning and the slow build had me hoping for a more surprising ending, something out of the ordinary and unexpected, a denouement which resolved all of the old damage from the past. I will let the readers decide on their own but I was left with a feeling of incompletion and, as a horror reader, a certain amount of déjà vu.

Overall, though, this is a gripping read with characters who possess more depth and grit than the average paranormal stock character. Once begun, the story haunted me in ways a novel has not for many years. Compelling, rich in setting and detail, this is a ghost story to keep you up nights.