#ToBeReMo 2: On Dark Paths

As I mentioned last Friday, I was reading book #2 for #ToBeReMo and would likely have a review of it up for Wednesday.  As promised, below you will find a review of On Dark Paths by Andrew Kincaid.  But first, a couple quick updates and a few questions for my readers:

1) For those who missed my very hyper extra blog post on saturday night, I FINALLY finished the first draft of my current WIP, Midnight’s Knife.  For further ranting on that issue, I refer you to Saturday’s blog: “Time to Celebrate! I Finished Something!”

2) I am curious to know whether putting any excerpts from Midnight’s Knife would be of any interest to anyone, or if that would be (as Kristen Lamb has said on more than one occasion) essentially shooting myself in the foot.  Should I just wait until I have a finished product to sell to all you lovely folks?

3)  Anyone have any good suggestions for places to learn more about writing summaries/synopses and queries?  ‘Cause I know NOTHING on the subject.  I’ve never gotten far enough along to worry about it before.  I have Bob Mayer’s book The Novel Writer’s Toolkit, which I think has a chapter about such things, but other than that… I’m clueless.

4)  I was digging through some old files and came across fragments of a short story I started — a sort of magical realism kinda thing about a woman whose best friend has disappeared off the face of the earth without a trace, except for strange reports of sightings.  I think I might tackle that as well, in between revising Midnight’s Knife, so wish me luck.

And now, without further ado, my review of On Dark Paths:

On Dark Paths is a collection of horror short stories by Andrew Kincaid, available as an ebook on amazon.com.  These stories peer into the darkness that sits just beyond the edge of normal existence, and sometimes deep inside the self.  I would not call these stories frightening exactly, though I am as a rule very hard to scare so perhaps I’m not the best judge of such things.  However, they are certainly entertaining.

Of the short stories in this collection, I enjoyed “The Bite” because it does something somewhat unusual – speaking from the perspective of a zombie, rather than those running from the zombie.  “It Came At Midnight” and “The Thing That Smiles” both effectively play on some of the most common fears of children (fear that often stick, despite ourselves, into adulthood): the thing under your bed, and the creature outside your window.  For me it was never the monster under the bed or in the closet but the noise outside my window that gave me pause, so “The Thing That Smiles” hit a little closer to home than did “It Came At Midnight.”  I suspect, however, that most will find “It Came At Midnight” the creepier of the two.  I also enjoyed “Benton’s Station” as the creature in it appeared to me to be something of an homage to Lovecraft.

Some of the stories in this collection are problematic for a few reasons.  For one, I think some, most specifically “…And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” “Plop!”, and “Where the Darkest of Dark Things Dwell,” try too hard to be deep and philosophical, rather than relying on the strength of the story and allowing the readers to come to their own conclusions.  Also, sensory descriptions are sometimes rather lacking – it is obviously an attempt to try to leave things unsaid so that the readers may fill the image with whatever horrifying thing they can think of, but we are not always given enough to go on.  At other times the exposition is full of background information that is far too long and often unnecessary for the story.  This is especially true in “Benton’s Station: which would, I believe, be stronger without much of the first 8 pages (on the Kindle) and a few pages from the middle (out of a story that is 49 pages on the Kindle).

Lastly, some of the images and concepts start to feel a little repetitive and recycled.  There are several stories involving creatures that snatch people in order to eat them.  On several occasions the 1st person narrator declares something along the lines of “I don’t remember much after that.  I cam to hours later…” as if to avoid having to explain scenes in further detail or fill in the narrative.  And I saw descriptions of “maggot-white” hands and faces, and demonic cackling, in at least 3 or 4 different stories.

All that being said, many of the stories are still highly enjoyable.  I think my favorite might be “Pandemic Hysteria” because the monsters, at last, are not supernatural creatures from the underworld but merely humans being stupidly, horrifyingly human.  And that kind of story, in which the horror is entirely too believable, is the kind that has power to me.  So, while these stories are not exactly scary (at least not to me), if you enjoy thought-provoking tales with more than their fair share of twisted darkness, then you should enjoy On Dark Paths.  It is not a perfect work, but it is an admirable debut effort, and I believe that Andrew Kincaid is someone worth keeping your eye on.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to comment on my questions at the top.  See you all on Friday!

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6 thoughts on “#ToBeReMo 2: On Dark Paths

  1. (1) Congratulations on Finishing Something!!

    (2) I’d love to see a snippet

    (3) Check out the classic “Techniques of the Selling Writer” by Dwight V. Swain for a terrific discussion on the fiction elevator pitch..

    I drafted my own version of it and keep a blank handy for when inspiration strikes. If you’d like a copy, let me know. 🙂

  2. Great review Amanda!

    On one of the questions you had at the beginning, about posting work on line. I give you a post by Jami Gold on that subject. Just posted today. http://jamigold.com/2011/06/have-you-posted-your-work-online/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+jamigold+%28Jami+Gold%2C+Paranormal+Author%29
    Enjoy.

    As far as synopsis writing, I know I’ve seen books on this but I don’t own any yet either. Another thing to add to the never-ending book shopping list 🙂

    • Oh, good, I’m not the only one who never got around to that part of the reading! It’s gonna be interesting trying to learn the business side of things.

      And thanks for the link! I saw that just a couple hours ago. It was an interesting discussion, including the comments. I still can’t make up my mind though… ^_^;

  3. Hey Amanda! Congrats on finishing your WIP! That’s awesome! I so need your writing schedule as mine is much more lacks and therefore not progressive. I’m so proud of you! Glad things are coming together more!

    • Thanks Jess! To get my writing schedule, you just have to be rejected from 10 PhD programs, unable to find a job, and decide to take a year off to write. ^_^;

      In August, once I FINALLY start my PhD all this time to write will be flying out the window. I’m just trying to get as much done as humanly possible before then.

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