Reaping the Dark by Gary McMahon
A streetwise getaway driver…
A drug raid that ends in bloodshed…
A violent criminal hell-bent on revenge…
A secret order of occultists…
And something summoned from the darkest depths of nightmare.
Who will survive this long, dark night, and how will it change them? And what kind of horror will be born from the chaos left behind?
If the old adage is true and we reap what we sow, then only evil can be unleashed by Reaping the Dark.
In a complete change of pace from my more recent reading, especially after the vast sci-fi steampunk epic that was In Dark Service, we have a short sharp shock of a horror novella from Gary McMahon.
Clarke, our eponymous hero and getaway driver, owes more than a little to the likes of Ryan Gosling in Drive and the mighty Jason Statham in The Transporter. Like his celluloid forebears, he’s the consummate professional, all about getting the job done at any cost. He’s never let himself be bogged down by any sort of obligation or familial ties. Tough as old boots and always ready for action, he could easily be dismissed as a bit of a two-dimensional action hero, but Clarke is far more than that. McMahon explores the forces that drive, excuse the pun, Clarke to take on dangerous illegal jobs. When an opportunity arises that’s too good to miss, he makes the split second decision to get away. Clarke is determined to start afresh elsewhere. The only potential fly in the ointment are dark forces that are just as determined to track him down.
As I’ve come to expect, there is once again an introspective quality to the characters in Gary McMahon’s writing that I always enjoy. On the face of it, Reaping the Dark could be viewed simply as straight horror tale, but if you look closer, hidden just beneath the surface, there are much more interesting things going on. My favourite part of the narrative focuses specifically with Clarke experiencing that revelatory moment, that key instant where he is suddenly aware that he has to consider more than just himself. Needless to say, Mr McMahon plays with the reader’s expectations and doesn’t let this play out in quite the way you’d expect.
It struck me as I was reading that the author has pulled off a rather impressive double with this novella. Not only does Reaping the Dark work perfectly well as a standalone tale in its own right, it can also be viewed as a prologue to something much, much larger. I’ll admit I found myself conflicted. Half of me would love to know what happens next, while the other half relishes the fact that this is just a single snapshot, just one day in the life as it were. It’s a wonderful quandary that I find often occurs when I’m really enjoy a novella or a short story.
Dark Fuse are currently producing some wonderfully effective horror, especially in the short form, and this is another title that can be added to that ever growing list. Well worth seeking this little gem out. McMahon proves yet again that he is a writer well worth any horror fan’s time.
Published by Dark Fuse and available from 20th May 2014.