Who’s in Your Dark Room?

Yes, I know I haven’t posted in well over a month. Been busy. But now I have stuff to post about. Namely, a book called Slights by Kaaron Warren. Warren is a new author (Slights is her first book, released in August 2010) from Australia, signed with the relatively new publisher Angry Robot. I will most definitely be returning to her work, and checking what else Angry Robot has put out. But more on that later.

Slights cover art
Slights by Kaaron Warren

Slights is a rather brilliantly written look at the mind of someone who is truly mentally disturbed. Well, at least that’s the way it seems. There are some definite problems in the main character’s psyche; that is, she has heavily scarred her own body just for the sake of doing it, for the sake of feeling. Oh, and there’s her multiple suicide attempts. And did I mention that she kills people to ask what they see in their dying moments?

That last one is actually the premise of the book, but it’s not given too much emphasis. I actually think that this is a good thing. Warren has a way with words, and especially gore, which makes me believe that if she had focused more on the morbid parts of the novel, I may not have gotten through it with all my food still inside me. And I love reading this kind of stuff.

At any rate, Steve – that’s the main character, and yes she is a girl with a guy’s name – has an interest in science. In a way. At least, she calls it research when she brings people to death’s door and brings them back to ask them what they saw. The answers aren’t terribly satisfying, and the victims don’t stay around long anyway, but this is her thing. She takes pleasure in it.

Did I mention why she does this? She has, for all intents and purposes, died more than once. Not for very long, but each time she finds herself in a dark room being subjected to all kinds of horrid tortures (this is the point where you’ll want a bucket). And not by people she has hurt badly, necessarily, but by people she has “slighted.” That is, anyone she hurt only slightly is in her dark room torturing her, be it the guy she wouldn’t sleep with or kid she bullied in grade school. The whole book is a giant adrenaline rush, and it’s impossible to stop until you’ve reached the end of the ride.

In addition to the dark room and the killing, there is a massive amount of intrigue, namely slowing finding out the gruesome details of Steve’s late father’s past. I can’t say much here without spoiling it, but I’ll just say that Steve’s eccentric aunt’s “novel” is very important.

All in all, I say if you have a weak stomach, stay away from this book; otherwise, get to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy. You won’t regret it. This book is one hell of a page-turner, and you’ll never expect anything that happens in it. I’m a veteran horror reader and I was taken by surprise quite a few times; a lot more than I expected from a new author. I will be following Warren’s career about as eagerly as I follow Brent Weeks’, and I can’t wait to get my hands on her next book.

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