Review of Bryan Smith’s DARKENED

Bryan Smith’s first self-publishing endeavor, DARKENED, reads like a literary equivalent of a heavy metal music video, jam-packed with apocalyptic imagery and a chaotic sensibility. In a subgenre that, as of late, has mostly dealt with the undead, it was refreshing to read this unique take on the end of the world.
When the world is invaded by winged demons and tentacles that reach through black tears in the fabric of reality, the human race is disposed of in relatively short order. The few survivors left behind deal with the new world in different ways. Some reach for others, while some take advantage of the new anarchy. Little do they all know, an even more sinister threat is awaiting them.
Smith keeps the novel moving quickly throughout its entirety. From the first page to the last, I was almost unable to take my eyes away, as the survivors faced down threat after threat. Most interesting is when the characters are faced with threats from other human beings. From the homicidal Mary Lou to the rapist Aaron Harris, the tale is populated with human villains just as nasty, if not nastier, than the demons themselves.
DARKENED is different from some of Smith’s other work, as it is a lot larger in scale, but his unique style remains intact. His gift for eliciting an emotional response from the reader is strong, even as the narrative carries with it a sense of B-movie fun. He does this by crafting characters as real as anyone you know and putting them in horrifying scenarios, just after he has gotten you to care for them.
I highly recommend DARKENED to anyone who enjoys a good romp through the end of the world.

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