Darkly Wood is an evil place, one to be avoided at all costs, and never to be ventured into under any circumstances. Except in print, in which case your curiosity will be very well rewarded indeed. It’s imaginative and well-written, and despite the fact that it follows in the grand tradition of evil lurking in dark forests, you’ll find surprising twists and an ending that you won’t see coming.
The concept behind the book is a series of stories that center around a foreboding forest in an out of the way corner of England. Naturally, it harbors a dark and deadly secret. Soon, a narrative following a single protagonist appears, and this ongoing continues to be interspersed with vignettes that are unrelated, except for the fact that the character each one focuses on wishes that they hadn’t been selected for that purpose before its end.
Power brings a pleasant story teller’s voice to the narrative that evokes the past as easily as the present. He has a surprising ability to continue to come up with stories revolving around the wood that all share the same overall trajectory, but which continue to interest in the details, in part because they’re short and well paced. While some are inevitably stronger than others, none come across as filler intended more to keep the premise alive than to continue to please.
Part of the intrigue of the book is that the narrative floats easily upon the back of time, moving effortlessly somewhere between the past and the present as it weaves the stories together, often not in a chronological fashion. That’s appropriate, because time is only passingly relevant in Darkly Wood, and the lines between the living and the dead, the killer and the killed, are often ephemeral and irrelevant.
Darkly Wood is a good read for any age, assuming your young adults don’t identify so closely with credible characters that they come back uninvited to visit in nightmares. It’s fast and fun, and the way the author pulls things together in the end will leave you pleased and impressed.
Max Power is the author of many books including Darkly Wood, all of which you can find at his author page at Amazon, which is here in the U.S., and here in the U.K. His writer’s site is here. Darkly Wood is available in eBook form in the U.S. at $2.99 (and free if you have Kindle Unlimited). It appears to currently be unavailable in paperback.
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