The Painted Darkness
Brian James Freeman
Interior artwork by Jill Bauman
Cemetery Dance, 2010, 171 pages, $19.99
Review by Wayne C. Rogers
Brian James Freeman is primarily known for his small, classy press, Lonely Road Books, which just published Stephen King’s novella, Riding the Bullet, with the screenplay by Mick Garris included. Brian is also the Managing Editor of Cemetery Dance magazine. What most people don’t know is that this very talented man is an author … a writer of speculative fiction. In fact, Brain is so good at the written word that he could give Stephen King or Peter Straub a run for their money.
The Painted Darkness is a short novel, but every bit as powerful in character development and cutting-edge prose as the larger tombs that are now being published by the mainstream houses. In other words, this little book is what I consider to be a priceless gem just waiting to be discovered by readers of horror fiction.
The story is centered on a present-day artist named Henry (no last name is given) and what happened to him as a five-year-old child when he encountered an evil so great it changed his life forever. As an adult, Henry has blocked out the incident from his childhood. The effect of it, however, is still evident in the type of paintings he does and in something he will soon discover in the basement of his old house on cold, wintery day.
The question for Henry is what is real and what is imagined? One of the reasons Henry is such a talented artist is because of his vivid imagination. Not all the things he sees are real, though it appears to him to be so. He will have to deal with this as he tries to stay alive long enough to survive the onslaught of the evil that’s raging through his home, seeking to finish the job that was started so many years before.
The Painted Darkness is the perfect display of how an author paints his own picture with precise and thought-provoking words that are weaved carefully together to enable the reader to not only smell the air, but to taste it as well. Each page comes alive in such a way that you are there in the snow with a young Henry, feeling the coldness seeping through your winter clothes, sensing the thing hunting you through the thick woods, and trying to keep the fear from overwhelming you as you search for the path to safety.
This is a novel that every reader of horror fiction needs to have on his/her bookshelf because Brian James Freeman is there as an author with this gripping, fast-paced story that grips you by the throat and throttles you senseless. Once you read The Painted Darkness, you’ll want to find everything else this author has written and then burn the midnight oil reading his stories under the sheets of your bed as tree limps rattle against your bedroom window, letting you know that there could be someone outside in the night, desperate to get in and to meet your acquaintance.
Get a copy of this before Amazon or Cemetery Dance sells out. This is definitely what writing is all about. Highly Recommended!