I no longer request an ARC of a book unless something about the book (sometimes the author, sometimes the description, sometimes even the publisher) attracts me to the title. So it should go without saying that I genuinely want to like and enjoy each book that I read. Sadly, that is not always the case.
Five children have been abducted from a very small town in the past four months. The FBI send agent Eliott Cooper to investigate. But what Cooper thought would be a pretty straight-forward investigation takes a sharp turn as an ancient evil begins to reveal itself in the woodlands around the community. Cooper is in for more than he ever bargained for.
This book was a bit of a slog to get through.
The mystery premise of the book was interesting and I was initially looking forward to getting more into the investigation. But the supernatural element just didn’t play well.
But the problems here are more than just an element that isn’t presented cleanly. The writing itself often had me scratching my head and ultimately had me wondering why there wasn’t a stronger editing process. Two things, small overall, but odd enough to catch my attention in the reading, jumped out at me.
The first was a conversation a man had with a doctor:
“Look, Doctor, I’m a businessman, and I’m up to my neck in work right now. I can’t allow myself the slightest health problem; do you understand? My company’s going to sign a big contract with a client in New York, and I need to be there this afternoon.”
“This afternoon? I’m afraid you’ll have to postpone your meeting until tomorrow. That would be wiser.”
Cooper pressed on. “That’s absolutely impossible!”
The doctor gestured that he could get dressed. Cooper went to his jacket and pulled out his wallet.
“Doctor, if it’s about money,” he said, pulling out a wad of bills, “I can pay, but I absolutely must have a full examination this afternoon.”
In my notes I wrote: “Is this really how you talk to a doctor you’ve never met before?” and “Why is he demanding an examination ‘this afternoon’ if he must be meeting a client in New York ‘this afternoon’?”
By all accounts, St. Marys, PA is a small town. This is where the abductions have occurred. The town appear to be surrounded by forests, where the evil dwells. I’ve spent a lot of time living in small towns and something I’ve never seen or heard attributed to small towns before is ‘riots.’ In response to one of the abducted being found, dead, we are informed: “The city has been in turmoil since Captain Sherman made the news official. The residents are horrified. There have even been riots over the pas two nights.”
‘Horrified’ – for sure. ‘Turmoil’ and ‘riots’? Mmmmm…doesn’t ring true at all.
This was hard to read – not because of the theme or subject, but because it just wasn’t written well.
Looking for a good book? The Essence of Darkness by Tom Clearlake would not be the path to finding it.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
The Essence of Darkness
author: Tom Clearlake
paperback, 445 pages