Fast-paced and a bit on the quirky side, The Mouth of the Dark is another great, new release from the folks at Flame Tree Press who are proving quite rapidly they are in the business to bring game to the genre. And bring it, they do.
While not a great fan of “creature-type” fantasy/horror, I got over that a few chapters into the book and it developed into quite the page-turner.
The story is simple enough; Jayce’s daughter has gone missing and he heads toward the seedy part of town to post some flyers and ask a few questions. From there, he’s introduced to more strange people than you can count and also encounters a sort of parallel universe that exists with ours called “Shadow.” Shadow can only be seen and experienced by a select few and Shadow is seriously fucked-up in every degradation imaginable. Think “Labyrinth” meets “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” with a side order of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Thunderdome” for dessert.
Tim Waggoner manages to pull this off deftly and impressively while giving slight clues and promises of the climax to come when the book hits its high note.
Characters are interesting, if a bit under-developed, but that’s understandable given the book takes place in a short time span (a few days from what I could gather, but I wasn’t reading for that so it didn’t really register until I’d finished). One character in particular, a dude named “Ohio Pig” is most intense and enjoyable in a perverse sort of way.
Dialogue is a bit elongated in places but isn’t overly done or melodramatic. Considering the circumstances Jayce finds himself in, it could have gone either way, but Waggoner manages to reel it in to fit the occasions.
The “ah-ha!” moment was slightly “not-ah-ha!” given the reader gets a fairly obvious precursor to it, but even with that, it wasn’t one of those, “I saw that coming a mile away” type of things.
The one thing that bothered me about this book was the lack of explanation for the appearance and behavior of the bizarre assortment of creatures occupying Shadow. They were well-described, but their motives were never clear--you’ll see what I mean the first time you meet the guy with the green rubber gloves.
Overall, The Mouth of the Dark was an enjoyable trip into the land of disbelief suspension and certainly worth a read.