Lost in Darkness
Bad Moon Books
Trade Paper, 152 pages, $16.95
Review by Sheila M. Merritt
Ah, adolescence: the betwixt and between. Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered; especially at twilight; and hey, ain’t supernatural love grand? Lost in Darkness author Jeffery Thomas not only embraces the agony and ecstasy of adolescence – he French kisses it. Swoony with barely suppressed desires and other seductive horrors, Thomas plays to the ‘tweens and teen in us all. While probably aimed at the popular young adult market, Lost in Darkness has appeal beyond it. Recalling that facial blush, and the blood rush to the ears and alternative sensory zones, reminds of those endearing young charms. And, when the otherworldly is involved – oh my, the possibilities are endlessly rapturous.
Dana Tower is a lovely adolescent out on Halloween, trick-or-treating with two contemporaries, a girl and guy. Said guy is covertly enamored of Dana, and the girl is an argumentative Goth with attitude. During the course of the evening, personality and posturing lead to an accident. Dana is hit by a car and suffers serious brain injury. While in a nether state of consciousness, she connects with three evil unearthly entities, and one celestially fine fellow. They follow her back to earth as she recovers. One of the malevolent trio assumes the guise of a dark-haired hottie male. Needless to say, the protagonist and her gal pal are both attracted to it/him. On the side of light, is the predictably blond angelic ghost who is also extremely alluring. Dana is drawn to the two opposites for different reasons; although the bottom line, so to speak, is rather basic.
Libido may be all well and good while simultaneously being down and dirty, but Dana does periodically come up for air. And with a clarity of vision unusual for one of her years and hormones, she fights the noble battle against the nasties who want to infiltrate our dimension with their diabolical takeover. Spoiler: Actual soul kissing is the means of achieving their nefarious goal. But the same application applies to aiding the spiritual and soulful blond cupcake. Sigh and surrender? Yes! Seldom has the term “no brainer” been so literally appropriate.
The dark fantasy side of Steven Spielberg comes to mind in this horror-lite look at untested youth confronting creatures with baleful intentions. A sequence with a demonic teddy bear is reminiscent of the clown toy in Spielberg’s/Tobe Hooper’s movie Poltergeist: “As she watched his cute, harmless face, his little smile grew wider. His mouth opened to grin at her. It was full of multiple rows of sharp teeth, like the jaws of a shark. Dana wanted to scream, but when she opened her mouth the darkness poured down her throat like a liquid … black waters that were drowning her. She began to wave her arms in panic. She saw those purple glowing eyes coming closer to her. The grin of sharp teeth kept growing wider … wider.”
The title Lost in Darkness may be interpreted as a metaphor for sifting through the complicated dynamics of passion, loyalty, uncertainty, and acceptance. The character of Dana Tower is a tough and sweet chick. She can square her shoulders, yet is not immune from going weak in the knees. Jeffrey Thomas infuses her with youthful exuberance and dogged determination; reminding us that challenges, mysterious or mundane, can be fulfilling and rhapsodic.