Remembering The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

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In summer of 2012, Stephen Woodfin and I posted dream interviews and dream reviews of the Top Five Finalists for the Indie Book of the Year, presented by the New Kindle Book Review. I wanted to go back and re-visit some of those authors in the indie field who are making a difference. Today, I am featuring Andy Gavin’s dream review of The Darkening Dream.

The Story: The Darkening Dream is the chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.

Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.

With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?

No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

Andy Gavin
Andy Gavin

Dream Review: The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin is not your typical vampire novel. Gavin clearly knows his genre backward, forward, and inside out. He simultaneously pays homage and reinvents. At the core, this is a story about a cabal of ancient supernatural creatures trying to destroy the world and the teenagers that stand in their way, but from this overdone premise comes and an entirely new – and shall I say – realistic effort.

On one hand, the book is packed with an overwhelming array of mystical entities, on the other, they are integrated in a seamless and naturalistic fashion, with characters that are far more than one dimensional. We have a 900 year-old vampire, a puritan pastor who dabbles in witchcraft and is in love with a demon, decrepit Egyptian gods, a kickass kabbalah mage, and a host of other preternatural entities including the Archangel Gabriel. But for each of these, Gavin has hit the books hard and drawn on a creepfest of historical sources.

This isn’t a world where vampires sparkle in the sun or witches crinkle their noses and teleport across town. No, in The Darkening Dream vampires are dead things. Corpses animated by ancient blood magics and centuries of hatred. Cunning yes. Evil yes. Deadly definitely. A thing that’s survived a millennium after death by draining the life-force of others isn’t careless, isn’t sentimental. And it certainly doesn’t pine over the cruel and transcendental nature of its curse.

Speaking of curses, this book has plenty to go around. But this magic isn’t the kind that comes easy. There is always a price. The young protagonists learn this the hard way when they take on ancient evil with a few fledgling powers. The characters are varied and as realistic as the spells. These are real people dealing with impossible situations. Nothing is black and white and even the most horrible of villains have their reasons.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this book. The setting is Salem Massachusetts right before World War I, a place and time poised between the traditional and the modern. Which in its own way is at the core of the story. Aren’t ancient sorcerers and the like, after all, traditionalists? Would 900 year-old vampires learn to speak teen slang? It seems everyone is a product of their era, even the undead!

The prose is lean and unsentimental, more Lovecraft or 20s noir than Twilight. Things happen in a gritty, bloody, realistic way. Except there’s a lot of magic going around, but in a way consistent with the real world we know. Or more the world we might want to know: where every cool legend is in fact – true – but certainly all the more terrifying.

The result: One hell of a ride. This is a book that builds. In the first third, it lays its groundwork and creates its world. Then the rest is one breathless lunatic descent into madness: unrelenting, emotionally exhausting, nerve wracking, shocking, and ultimately cathartic. Try it.

Online Reviews:

“Wonderfully twisted sense of humor” and “A vampire novel with actual bite” — Kirkus Reviews

“Inventive, unexpected, and more than a little bit creepy!” — R.J. Cavender, editor of the Bram Stoker nominated Horror Library anthology series

“This book will satisfy any fan of the vampire genre and then some!” — Must Read Faster

“In a similar vein to George R.R. Martin’s writing style, Gavin often dangles his characters in the maws of danger and doesn’t shy away from … their blood being spilled.” — Andrew Reiner, executive editor of Game Informer magazine

“Now this is a vampire novel! It flows so perfectly between character point of views, it’s a great blend of historical fiction, mythology and paranormal.” — Little Miss Drama Queen Reviews

“Action-packed and suspenseful, and there were twists all over the place.” — Les Livres

“Andy Gavin has taken a bevy of supernatural elements, compelling characters, and an intricate and superbly developed storyline, and expertly weaved them together to create an original and enthralling book.” — Word Spelunking

Please click the book cover image to read more about The Darkening Dream.

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