The last book for me to review from the November releases by DarkFuse is a novel that has another stunning cover (and one that makes perfect sense once the novel is read) by an author that I had never read before. Knowing the quality of DarkFuse’s books, however, I had no doubt that I was going to enjoy “Mr. Midnight” by Allan Leverone.
Caitlyn Connelly has lived her life with a couple secrets that she rarely shares with anyone. The first is that she has a deep desire, almost a need, to discover the truth of her family that she has never known since she was given up for adoption just after she was born. The second is that she has visions, what she calls Flickers, about people around her that give her glimpses into their lives. She never really imagined that the two were related but when her boyfriend, Kevin Dalton, hires a private investigator to track down Caitlyn’s parents, there is no way she can prepare herself for the revelations to come.
In Boston, the city is being terrorized by a serial killer that has come to be known as Mr. Midnight. Preying mostly on those whose disappearances will not be noticed for a little while, Mr. Midnight has been kidnapping, torturing, and murdering prostitutes and drug addicts for a long time. What no one knows is that Mr. Midnight has visions that provide insight into the lives of those around him and which fuel his sick urges. As Caitlyn leaves her Tampa home to meet with her mother in a Boston suburb, Mr. Midnight begins to have visions about her. Is this just an inevitable occurrence when two powerful physics get near each other or is there something deeper, and darker, at play here? Caitlyn must find the answer to this for her life may depend on it.
“Mr. Midnight” is at times both touching and sickening. Leverone starts the novel off with two completely different worlds. The reader is given the peaceful Tampa world of Caitlyn who immediately seems like a kind and caring person. She leads a relatively uneventful life and has learned to cope with the Flickers that are a part of her life and even use them to help others. In contrast, the Boston world of the murderer is one of pain and torture. There is absolutely no light in this world but only desperation and torment. Mr. Midnight tortures and defiles his victims but he is in turn tormented by the visions that strike him with almost physical pain and bury his humanity even further. He experiences no pleasure except in brief but intense bursts that can only be achieved through the pain of others. It is obvious from the beginning that these two are destined to meet which can be a trap for an author but not for Leverone.
“Mr. Midnight” features two characters that are polar opposites of each other with Caitlyn representing all that is good and Mr. Midnight representing pure evil. This is a dangerous setup for a novel as it risks alienating the reader by presenting characters that are not easy to relate with. Leverone pulls this off by making them mirror opposites of each other and allowing the reader to cheer for the triumph of good over evil. Even with an easily foreseen showdown, Leverone keeps the story fresh with twists and turns to keep the reader on his toes and not really knowing what is going to happen next. The juxtaposition of extreme torture, which Leverone handles with enough graphic details to turn the reader’s stomach without becoming gratuitous, makes the reader cringe while at the same time hoping that this extreme evil will eventually be conquered.
“Mr. Midnight” is what a horror novel should be. By compressing the action into a short time period after setting the story up, Leverone crafts a tightly-knit tale that keeps the reader turning the page as quickly as possible to see what was going happen next. He was able to elicit and emotional response from me as I cheered for Caitlyn to overcome the horror that assaulted her. It is rare that I find myself so heavily invested in a story but I truly came to care for Caitlyn and came to experience the story rather than just reading it. I do not know how DarkFuse continues to find authors of such great talent and introduce them to the genre. “Mr. Midnight” is another shining example of the power of horror and I hope to read more of Leverone’s work in the near future.
I would like to give a special thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced reading copy. “Mr. Midnight” is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in November.