DEVOURING DARK by Alan Baxter
When I went to read Alan Baxter for the first time, I ended up choosing Devouring Darkbecause its premise reminded me of a comic series I enjoyed when I was growing up: The Darkness. You have your anti-hero with a shadow-like power surging inside him that can be unleashed in horrific ways. There’s a lot than can be done with this idea, but for now this is a standalone novel and not a series (though Baxter has several others, so maybe there’s hope yet for Devouring Dark to continue).
Though I definitely enjoyed this book, I had a few issues that nagged me along the way. There’s a surprising amount of slow sequences for what should be an action-fueled story. There’s also the matter of Matt’s guilt (which powers his darkness); what he did as a child is absolutely terrible, and yet Amy (the character he falls for with a similar power) is very easygoing about the whole thing. She basically tells him not to worry, it’s no big deal, and he should confess it to his parents and smooth things over. I’m sorry, but that was unbelievable – if my kid came and told me they had done such a thing, we would not be able to “smooth it over.” What Matt did is unforgiveable, even if he was just a kid when he did it.
I would have liked to see more action – though I get Matt’s condition keeps it from showing up hardly at all in the story – as well as some different interaction between his character and the others to gain sympathy from me. I was interested in our anti-hero up until I learned the cause of his guilt; I didn’t care about him after that, and felt Amy was just blinded by her interest in him and willing to overlook his evil.
My complaints aside, I did enjoy the majority of this book, enough so that I would like to read a sequel. I also found Baxter’s writing comfortable and inviting, so I will look into his other work in the coming months. So, overall, this is a recommended title (especially for comic fans). – by Andrew Redman