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115 - 11/20/2013 8:28:35 AM  

The Waking Dark
Robin Wasserman

It's got to be tough being a horror writer these days.

Between prolific writers such as Stephen King and the army of companies looking to capitalize on the recent obsession with supernatural creatures, it must be difficult to find an idea that isn't predictable, boring, or re-treaded ad nauseam.

While Robin Wasserman doesn't entirely avoid these particular pitfalls, the visceral quality of her prose and rich cast of characters she creates serve to reduce any complaints I have about Waking Dark to minor quibbles when compared to the depth of enjoyment I got from reading it.

Set in the town of Oleander, Kansas, the catalyst for the story of Waking Dark is The Killing Day: a horrific event where five individuals inexplicably took the lives of twelve people before attempting to commit suicide themselves. I say attempt, but only one of the killers survived: Cass Porter has no memory of what occurred the night she smothered baby Owen in his crib, nor any idea why she did it.

Jumping forward a year, she and the soon-to-be ensemble cast of the book are still reeling from the events. Daniel Ghent witnessed a shop full of people gunned down by the normally amiable store owner; then there's Jule, outsider niece to the meth baron of the Southwest (one whose last name isn't White); Ellie is a God-fearing Christian who fears the Devil is at work in Oleander. They are joined by Jeremiah, a high-school football star who watched his boyfriend be fatally mangled, and who now wars with the guilt from keeping the secrecy of their relationship, as well as with own identity. Something violent and hungry is rising within the town, and the five survivors must find out what it is before this primeval force rips Oleander asunder from the inside.

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