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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dark Muse by Dave Smith

People don't live, only stories live. 

So reads the tagline of the scariest book I've read in a really, really long time. An unpublished writer is creating stories so vivid that everyone who reads them is moved profoundly. He's sending manuscripts to Jack, an editor who desperately wants to publish them, and to be the person who "discovered" this talent. But the writer has strange demands. He doesn't want to just be published, he needs to know if Jack is the right guy, if Jack can be trusted. And there's more...the writer is destroying a life to create each story. Because people don't live, only stories live. And if Jack wants to publish this daring new literary voice, he's going to have to make a few...sacrifices...of his own.

If you like your horror dripping with blood, you'll be well-satisfied, but if you like your horror to have a literary edge, you'll be similarly happy. It's a slim volume and I was fooled into thinking it wouldn't be too intense when I sat down to read it. Then I had two nights worth of nightmares to prove me wrong. 

What's so scary about this book? The premise is fairly disturbing on its own, a writer who kills so his stories can live. But the one-sentence blurb doesn't really do justice to what's going on in this book. This is masterful storytelling, the kind that gets deep into your bones like a bad chill and then stays there. I'm getting the creeps just writing this book review and thinking about the book, and I read it over a month ago. Smith takes his time spinning the story, and on top of even pacing is strong dialogue and believable characters. What's scary is that the whole thing is so damn possible, there's no leap of disbelief to make as a reader. In a time of "found footage" horror films and "reality" TV it's refreshing to see an author using a traditional format to scare the pants off his readers. No gimmicks, just a terrifying read.

We'll have copies for sale at Eljay's very soon, and you can come meet Dave (who is flying into Pittsburgh for two hours just for this event!!) On January 19th at 11am.

Sorry I don't have better cover art folks, I had to crib this from the poster I have advertising Dave's signing in my store (Saturday, January 19th at 11am).

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