The Painted Darkness

November 7, 2016 at 7:00 pm (Reads)

darknessThe Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman

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Henry is a painter. He works obsessively, for reasons he understands, though he can’t identify them. As a child, he witnessed something that traumatized him to the point where he began drawing to fight the darkness that threatened him. Twenty years later, he continues to do so, though he has forgotten what the darkness contains.

Freeman masters atmosphere and tension, as well as imbuing everyday things with an otherworldliness. This is a story that’s hard to pause, because you feel like the answers are just a page or two away. The story flips between Henry’s experience as a child and his experience as an adult, one chapter at a time, so Freeman doles out the story piecemeal, playing with your expectations as you go.

Freeman takes his time drawing out the story, though once it finally reaches the conclusion, things happen quickly. I wanted to see a bit more beyond the ending he created. Specifically, the story opens with Henry alone in the house after fighting with his wife, who has left with their son. The end indicates a resolution between them, but goes into no detail about it. The story is just about Henry, but his family is just a prop to support his own issues.

The Painted Darkness is well-written and effective, but still a bit of a let-down. The ending is a surprise, and Henry’s struggle is engaging, but the story lacked too much to make it a perfect story. It’s a good Halloween read, though.

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