Mystery Science Masterpiece Theatre – Review of This Brilliant Darkness


This Brilliant Darkness by Red Tash

The way the author weaves fantasy, humor, science fiction, and mystery is, for lack of a better word, brilliant. I read the entire thing with admiration/envy, taking notes and thinking ‘THIS is how you write a novel.’ The religious themes and sexual undertones combine to make an intellectually stimulating joyride. It reminded me of Lorrie Moore (sarcastic, clever) meets Dan Brown (can’t put it down, fast paced), but much more poetic. There were layers upon layers of symbols and ideas, but even if you only skimmed the surface, it was a highly entertaining read.

I particularly enjoyed the one-line poems/pop culture nods throughout the chapter titles, ranging from the Pixies, to Harry Potter, to the Hindenburg disaster. I also loved how realistically the characters were portrayed; the dialogue felt like I was hanging out with my friends, goofy, relaxed, and straight forward (My friends are smart and hilarious; YMMV). The best parts of TBD were the touches of modern life scattered throughout the story. Remember when Scream blew the horror world away by actually using technology in a realistic way? Well here’s blogging and online forums and long distance cyber friendships, honestly depicting the way we live in the 21st century.

There’s some heavy Biblical symbolism, but it never felt overtly Christian. There’s also a lot of parallels to science fiction, but I wouldn’t call it sci-fi, either. I’m an atheist, but I was a little touched by the subtle way in which the author plants these seeds of faith and doubt simultaneously. Science and Magic and Jesus, together? Absurd! But perfect, if you think about it.

My biggest criticism is that I don’t think the cover does it justice (but does any cover, ever, really?). TBD is a modern, intelligent, thrilling masterpiece. I can’t wait to see what else Tash does.

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Review of “The Restoration Man”

The strongest writing is like the male half of a dancing duo: his job is to display the female. The writing’s job is to display the content, without calling attention to itself. In “The Restoration Man,” Simon John Cox does this with subtle precision and evocative imagery.

He composes sentences that flow so well they disguise the skill with which they were crafted. Every clause, every syllable, is placed so purposefully that the brain floats through the narrative uninterrupted by a shade of doubt, oblivious to the emotional osmosis that occurs between the lines.

And does it ever occur. Call me cold-hearted, but I’m not often “moved” by the weak attempts at poignancy that litter contemporary literature. But this story is not a weak attempt; it is a powerful success. This guy has got it.

The mood reminded me a little of Morvern Callar (novel by Alan Ramsey), although I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe because the way it was written was in such contrast to the main character? Maybe not…

Anyway, I liked it. Check it out.

“The Restoration Man” – Simon John Cox – Amazon $.99