The last review copy of the June releases from DarkFuse that I had to read was the novel "Dark Father" by James Cooper. I have never read anything by Cooper before but I had high expectations when I started the novel with the knowledge that DarkFuse only publishes the best horror fiction being published today.
"Dark Father" is a trip through the surreal of men who are haunted by the presence of the dark father. A family's ideal vacation turns into a horrific journey when a young boy stumbles across a strange man. While the episode seems to be a strange diversion at first, it turns to terror when the boy disappears and a family is torn apart by his absence. The father becomes haunted by the destruction of his family and his tortured mind turns toward insanity as he struggles to pull his broken dreams back together. A man suffering from a rare mental illness finds himself seeing his father in every man he meets while he is haunted by the dark and violent aspect of a father that he barely remembers. Another family is torn apart when a violent confrontation between a young boy's parents leads to a desperate flight from a vindictive patriarch as his mother struggles to free him from his father's violent grasp only to find horror lurking behind every corner. The three stories might not be connected if not for the presence of the dark father looming over them all.
"Dark Father" is a strange novel that weaves together the threads of a couple different story lines to craft a novel that is uniquely interesting and horrifying. Cooper is able to hold the story together in a unified thread while exploring it from different angles at the same time. There were times in the novel in which I felt a little adrift in the narrative and unable to hold my thoughts together and allow me to comfortably follow the narrative yet Cooper is able to hold it together until the end to provide a unique reading experience. The figure of the dark father is present throughout the story to be a unifying and disturbing presence that haunts the novel and keep the tension ratcheted up to a frantic level. There is a darkness that lurks inside of all of us and Cooper is unafraid to set that darkness loose upon the world in this original and frightening novel.
"Dark Father" is a good book that is only held back from being a great novel by the fact that I finished feeling like I missed something. I suspect that I will probably enjoy the novel more when I have the opportunity to read it for a second time. There is a lot at play in this story and it can be a little difficult at times to keep the characters and events straight. I was kept guessing at what was going to happen next as well as the connection between the different story lines and this became a distraction at times. Still, Cooper is able to pull things together as the novel concludes and shine some light upon the threads that he weaves throughout the novel. The horror of the novel is subtle and I had to make some effort to put the story together and search for the underlying meaning that Cooper is trying to make. In all, this is an interesting read and one that I am sure will grow richer with repeated reading.
I would like to thank DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced review copy. "Dark Father" is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in June and is available for preorder now.