It’s 6:30 am my time and I have spent a copious amount of the hours before hand finishing off this latest literary meal. Night Side of Dark comes with a bill of sale labeling it as a dark World War II-era thriller with supernatural overtones. It certainly sounded intriguing and you may already realize by the first sentence of this review how the rest of it will go. We all know the power of fine literary cuisine to keep one up to all hours of the night, unable to rest until the last morsel is devoured.
Before we find out why this is so captivating a treat, let’s do a quick run-down of the Starving Review laws:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible
This is one of those full-course, perfectly laid out meals that holds your attention from start to finish. Set in the waning days of World War II, Night might be said to be unmitigatingly dark at first blush, something long-time readers will know doesn’t sit well with me. Yet, strangely, there is always a thin cord of hope, a strange, almost undetectable spirit, and it is those hints of flavor, carefully woven into the downbeat of a shattered Europe and Nazi atrocities, that makes this a masterpiece of theme and narrative.
The recipe weaves its supernatural elements easily and believably in with the grit and blood of war, producing a distinct ripple and mirror effect that cascades throughout the plot. The plot runs with these mirrored flavors, ensuring that no scene, no event, no matter how odd or irrelevant it seems at first, does not factor critically later on. Add to that a cast of masterfully crafted characters with flavors that will dance on your tongue and Night delivers in spades on all the promises of its menu entry.
I rarely gush so unabashedly about a meal. Even my five-star choices tend to have minor niggles, small flaws. Few things are truly flawless, but this unexepectedly comes as close as any I have ever seen, and I can only hope that I bake my next cake so well. From wordsmithing to theme to plot to characters to pacing, there’s not a real misstep I can point out, especially in retrospect at the end. Perhaps the only thing might be that some of the opening extended sequence may seem too surrealistic at first read but that’s a stretch to say, even more so once the fearful symmetry of the meal becomes obvious.
Well, there’s no reason to carry on here. Let’s sum it up by saying Night Side of Dark is a masterfully baked cake of supernatural WWII thriller noir, as close to perfect as I’ve seen. The only people I could say who might not like this are those who simply can’t abide realistic war stories. Though not excessive in its gore, Night pulls no punches when it comes to the state of war. For everyone else, buy it, read it, love it.
FINAL VERDICT: ***** (A masterfully baked cake of supernatural WWII thriller noir, as close to perfect as I’ve seen!)