Krait reviews Into the Darkness by Marlie Harris


Ridge Falls is an unusual town. A mining community created in the late 1800’s, after the construction of a hydroelectric dam, the town was moved. Old timers said the dam was a bad idea. Bad things would happen.

They were right. Now, evil seems to haunt the reservoir. It manifests itself to different people in different ways. Come with us. Sit down. Visit. Have a glass of sweet tea at the local diner. We have some stories to tell you.

So, this book. First, I have to be honest. This book doesn’t have any lesbian (or any other permutation of ladies-into-ladies) content. There’s about a paragraph of a monster in a woman’s body killing another woman and I really don’t think that counts.

Warning: the book opens– on the first page – with the sexual abuse of a child, and sexual and physical abuse occur in quite a few of the stories.

Into the Dark is otherwise a series of very short stories, theoretically connected by the setting, about terrible things happening to people. Most of the people are terrible, too. There’s no framing device inside the book itself – the stories don’t occur at the same time or feature the same people (with one reoccurring character).

I like horror, particularly the psychological terror-in-the-dark flavor. But the over-the-top grotesquerie in this book pulled me out of the story every time. There were no characters to connect to, so the violence and gore didn’t have any emotional impact. The biggest problem was that I kept finding myself asking “What was the point of that?” There are so many disparate elements within the stories that I just wound up bored and vaguely lost.

There is one story in this that I enjoyed – “The Wilsons” – about a woman dealing with germaphobia and the loss of her husband. That story had atmosphere and a character I liked. It also doesn’t fit in at all with the rest of the book, so take that as you will.

The author is apparently writing a novel set in this universe, and perhaps that will work better. This book felt like an experiment, the sort of thing that winds up in your notes for a story but never published. And again, I’m disappointed that the author submitted it to the Lesbrary, because it really doesn’t count.