Dew from a Dark Mourning

dew-from-a-dark-mourning

Dew from a Dark Mourning was written by Brenda McGee Holdsworth and first published in 2012. It is a Christian horror story which focuses on a group of teenagers who are targeted by a faceless entity. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Jessica is fifteen years old and wants to fit in with her friends. They’re all good teenagers but there is only one problem. None of them are Christian like she is and Jessica is worried that they won’t take her seriously if the find out. She is also nervous about whether her boyfriend, Maurice, is really into her. All her friends seem to be in close relationships with their partners, yet Maurice hasn’t even held hands with her.

However, Jessica’s worries turn out to be very small when she and her friends are stalked by a strange creature. The sinister being takes the form of a man but its face is oddly blurry and indistinct. When the being causes their car to crash on the way to the beach, Jessica awakes to find herself trapped in a shadowy world. The creature plans to take more than just her life and Jessica and her friends soon find themselves battling a monster with the power to turn their fears and insecurities against them.

Yet the being isn’t content in tormenting Jessica alone. It soon turns its sights on her family and other members of her community. Their enemy isn’t the kind that can be defeated by brute force, but is their faith enough to save them?

I found Dew from a Dark Mourning to be a very difficult novel to review, as I think it’s one of those books that will speak to different people in different ways. Faith is an incredibly difficult thing to measure. I feel that a Christian reading this novel would probably get a lot more out of it. People who follow this faith have a certain mindset – an appreciation of the importance of God’s will and the sacrifices of Jesus Christ that a non-Christian may not quite grasp. The message of Dew from a Dark Mourning quickly becomes plain to the reader. It concerns how belief in God can give a person strength and protection in difficult times.

As a non-Christian reading this book, it didn’t have quite the same impact. I was not encouraged to cast aside my own belief set and embrace Christianity based on the arguments raised by this novel. However, I still did find it to be a very interesting read. I do have a deep curiosity about different religions and confess that I don’t know an awful lot about the Bible beyond the stuff that everyone learns in Primary school.

This novel contains many excerpts from the Bible, along with references to specific verses which encourage the reader to research these sections further to fully appreciate the text. I’d never heard of Psalm 91:3 before, but due to its importance within this tale I was encouraged to Google it and did enjoy having the opportunity to learn a little more about the Christian faith. If, like me, you are curious about such things then this novel does offer a lot of food for thought.

The story itself was short and fast paced. It was well constructed for an independent novel and was a very easy read. The only small issues I had with it were in terms of punctuation and an occasional mixing of tenses. It may have been an error in the type facing of my copy, but some paragraphs bled together which made it difficult to tell who was talking. The story also took a couple of chapters to draw me in, and so I would recommend sticking with it. The first couple of chapters were a little slower and exposition heavy, immediately providing the reader with a lot of information about the characters (some of which was irrelevant to the story), yet this did settle down as the Birdcatcher made its presence known.

I loved the use of the Birdcatcher as the antagonist for the story. It was memorable and unlike any representation of the Devil that I’d ever seen before. This concept is also worth researching, as its origins within the Bible made for some interesting reading from a theological perspective. The best chapters of the novel were set within the Birdcatcher’s domain, which were atmospheric and more than a little creepy. The sinister tone made these sequences very tense, warping reality and making you wonder how much trouble Jessica was in. While there is an almost dreamlike quality to them, you get the increasing sense that the danger is very real. Yet, as dangerous and imposing as the Birdcatcher is, the fact that physical attacks are futile against it was very curious. It is both strong and weak at the same time, rendered almost powerless by characters of strong will.

In terms of characterisation, Dew from a Dark Mourning has a very large cast. This was a little daunting at first, as I found it hard to remember who was who. However, as the story entered its second part a lot of the minor characters faded into the background and it became clear who the main protagonists were. The main characters were all likeable, particularly Jacob and his friends, and I especially liked the development that Larry received as he grew from a cheeky so-and-so to a good Christian boy.

The only real disappointment that I had was that Jessica and her friends (who were vital in the first part) kind of disappeared from the story after a while. The final chapter implies the fate of her two comatose friends, but I would have liked to have seen this occur on page. Their situation had such an emotional impact on Jessica after her ordeal, driving her almost to depression at the start of the second part. I would have liked to have seen the catharsis occur on page, so we could have seen how it affected Jessica.

Anyhow, to conclude, Dew from a Dark Mourning is an interesting novel and I’m sure that Christian teenagers in particular will get a lot out of it. Despite a few issues with characterisation and punctuation, it’s fast paced and contained a fantastic antagonist. It is definitely the most interesting Christian novel that I’ve reviewed on this blog and it makes me curious to take a look at Holdsworth’s other work.

Dew from a Dark Mourning can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook from Amazon.co.uk

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  1. Trackback: The Sobeks 2016 – Part 4 | Arkham Reviews

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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