The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Desperate to find his missing daughter, Jayce Lewis delves into the Cannery; a place of secrets and unnatural dangers; a shadowy part of Oakmont he didn't even know existed. Accompanied by a mysterious guide, he soon finds himself in over his head and surrounded by violence of the most perverted manner. Not only is a psychotic hunter on his trail, but the legendary Harvest Man seems not far behind.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Flame Tree Press for giving me the opportunity.
I’ve been sitting here thinking of just where to begin this review. You see, Waggoner introduced me to a very unique world, one in which I felt thrilled to be a part of, if only for a limited time. My love for the weird and bizarre once more resurfaced, and it seldom does due to how rarely I find myself experiencing surrealism in the genre. When it does come about, however, I enjoy it immensely, especially when the imaginative aspects are through the roof. There was a great deal that spurred me to keep going here, and I won’t lie, sometimes it was less to do with the story and more to do with what outlandish scene might come next. I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a bad thing; a book like this depends largely on building up its strangeness and taking it to new heights. The concept of Shadow was a memorable factor; a monstrous realm that bled into normal reality, whereupon freakish creatures resided. It was as if Shadow itself was a distortion of the real world; a deformity, or a glitch, much like the very abnormalities it caused those exposed to it.
Sex played a major role here, and whilst it was wildly entertaining, it also proved to be a little disquieting at times. Being a tale about, ultimately, the relationship of father and daughter, Jayce often found himself reflecting upon Emory’s erotic style of life. It wasn’t altogether out of the blue, considering the very intimate revelations during his search, but it didn’t exactly make his thoughts any less discomforting. In all, it was quite the situation; imagine a parent discovering all of your sexual escapades, including the very unconventional toy you use. Awkward, right? As for Jayce as a protagonist, he was a determined person, yet it was clear he was a stranger even to himself. I enjoyed the travels back into his history, as whilst he was getting to know himself, I was getting to know him as well.
As for Nicola, of whom played the role of companion to Jayce, I liked her, however her fate left me a little disappointed. I guess I expected more of a fleshed out conclusion to their coupling; it seemed to be over pretty quickly. The single character that stood out for me though was the long-lived Ivory. She was certainly depicted in a bad light, but she wasn’t a typical villain. I firmly believe her actions were doing a service to the unsuspecting populace, even if her methods were terribly ruthless. A definite highlight was Crimson Splendour, and what lay underneath it; a nightmarish playground that enthralled the deviant in me.
I really didn’t see the ending coming - it just seemed to come from nowhere and escalate from one to a thousand. I wouldn’t even consider it a happy ending either, but I guess it would depend wholly on your definition of happiness. It surprised me, without doubt, and it established itself as rather distinct. I mean, I can't honestly say I've never read a finale of that calibre before.
In conclusion: Perhaps suited more to the label of dark fantasy, this one focused on the creepily surreal side of fiction. I very much relished the weird and wonderful, and only experienced a few minor let-downs. I would love if Waggoner decided to make a series out of it, as he's crafted a world I would enthusiastically return to.
It appeared at first as if the man was going to do nothing more than walk, but then his mouth - which looked wrong, even from this distance - yawned open, and a dark cloud emerged, expanding as it moved toward the club's fleeing patrons. The darkness engulfed a dozen of those at the rear of the crowd, and then the screaming began.
© Red Lace 2018