Monday, August 16, 2010
In the Dark of the Night by John Saul
Now holding a title shared with many others of mass-market king, John Saul was one of my favorite authors as a pre-teen and throughout my young adult years. I first devoured Suffer the Children (1977) which is still wildly original and read everything written by Saul up through 1994, when I began to notice a tiring and homogeneous plot trend in his novels. I did revisit John Saul in 2006 to read his Blackstone Chronicles, which were super fun and renewed my confidence in Saul! Now, several years later, I have decided to read In the Dark of the Night.
In the Dark of the Night features a trio of upper-class close-knit families who vacation in a lakeside community that thrives with tourism in the summer. Three teenage sons -- one from each family (who coincidentally just happen to be best friends) discover a hidden room in an old abandoned boathouse on one of the properties and begin poking around where they shouldn't. Alas, evil soon unleashes, people start to die, and the peaceful community is in an uproar. Throw into the mix some hateful, local teenage rivals that hate rich kids, and the evil intensifies.
The novel sloooooowly builds suspense until after about halfway through, when we learn about why dark evil surrounds the mysterious "tools" the boys have found in the boathouse. After a long build-up by Saul (or his ghostwriter these days?), you'll be highly pleased and intrigued about the history of these "tools"! As you read on, your eyes will grow to the size of silver dollars and you'll say, "WOW! That's so original!"
But then, just as quickly as the excitement arrives, it fades away just as fast when you realize not much more is going to happen with these "magic tools" (I'm not giving away spoilers!) aside from people just dying. With such a unique horror concept, you'll expect more creativity from the plot but it just doesn't happen, and doesn't satisfy.
John Saul will always be a staple and harbor a solid place in my childhood library memories, but I'm just not sold on buying any more of his future novels. Regardless, although I'm still going to skim the synopsis of each new book, I can't promise that I'll be a devoted fan forever and ever.
John Saul's most recent horror novel is House of Reckoning (2009).
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