L.H. Thomson's Reviews > Dark Passage

Dark Passage by Griffin Hayes
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Mar 15, 12

Read on March 15, 2012

Tyson Barrett is plagued by insomnia. In the hopes of a miracle cure, he volunteers for a drug test. But Tyson has a horrible past, one that haunts his dreams -- dreams which begin intruding upon the physical world.

Dark Passage has several merit-worthy elements, but is ultimately betrayed by numerous writing issues in structure and approach. The plot treds some familiar horror turf -- dreams and reality intruding upon one another -- and most of it has been done well elsewhere. The characters are thinly drawn, making it difficult to connect to them empathetically.

In fact, most of the book's problems betray a general lack of attention to realism. While author Griffin Hayes has reasonably smooth turn-of-phrase, his pacing in unpolished and his characters' conversations often ring untrue, in the kind of awkward, bantering manner you find when novelists or script writers are trying to hurry things along. Their emotional responses are often overexaggerated, or introduce a sudden shift in personality that seems out of place.

Some of the annoyances are purely technical, and would have been caught by a good proofer: grammatical quirks, like shifting when addressing the same individual from second- to third-person, or poor punctuation that affects pacing.

But a less forgivable sin is that a horror book, by definition, needs to build suspense. That is lacking here. In fact, you'll guess the weapon used in the climactic scene the first time it's mentioned, it's such a cliche -- and that's some 40 chapters before it actually happens. There's foreshadowing, and there's too much reliance on the familiar.

When the author does try to "spring" something, the pacing and delivery falls flat and the first attempt at a real shock instead seems goofily amusing. When he introduces another character's psychopathic leanings, it's so abrupt as to be unbelievable.

The book occasionally succeeds in being creepy, and there are some good ideas here, but few of the characters are particularly likeable. The hero of the story seems to be homophobic, too, which wasn't really necessary and didn't add much to his fairly baseline character development.

Not the worst book I've ever read, but I can't recommend it.




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