mark monday's Reviews > Dark Seeker

Dark Seeker by K.W. Jeter
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's review
Oct 24, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: horrortime, z-kw-jeter

'tis the season...


this is a surprisingly effective, briskly paced, nicely tense, and occasionally interesting bit of horror-thriller.

poor Mike Tyler has a problematic past: once a part of a group of pretentious college kids devoted to a pretentious professor slash guru slash svengali, these kids and their prof decided to take it to the next level by regular ingestion of the highly illegal drug The Host - which apparently induces both hallucinatory effects and shared empathic group connection. sadly, The Host is similar to that Blue Sunshine drug from the movie called, er, Blue Sunshine, and so zany murderous Manson Family-style slaughter-hijinks ensued. but all that is behind him. after all he didn't take part in the murders - he was merely an accomplice. after some hard time in both prison and a mental institution, and medicated to the gills, he's managed to carve out a decent living with a nice live-in girlfriend and her son. unfortunately for Mike, not only does The Host stay in your system permanently (thus the constant meds) but a member of the group has come out of the woodwork and is trying to recruit Mike back in - by kidnapping his supposedly long-dead son from Mike's once-vanished ex-wife. uh oh!

K.W. Jeter is a genre maverick, having paved the way for both cyberpunk and steampunk with novels like Dr. Adder and Morlock Night. at some point he apparently decided to make some cash by churning out a series of lurid horror novels that probably looked great on the shelves of various B Daltons and Waldenbooks across the nation. such is Dark Seeker. i hope he made some money off of this one.

Jeter has an individualistic vision that encompasses the Los Angeles landscape of freeways and strip malls, a grim and sour misanthropy, the need for his characters to escape from various dark pasts, and a fairly expert use of parallel narratives that comment on each other in intriguing ways. he clearly has writing chops (except for the overuse of various cringe-worthy parentheticals denoting thoughts-within-thoughts) and he just as clearly has the ability to outwrite more popular horror hacks. such is Dark Seeker. i hope he didn't beat himself up too much when seeing his novels shelved next to Koontz and Saul.

i was impressed with Jeter's skill at portraying what it feels like to be on hallucinogens. the taste in the mouth, the subtle colored outlines, the thrilling expansion of sound and vision. although now the idea of taking acid sounds about as fun to me as taking bleach, back in my college days i did it more times than i can remember. i used to love it so much that the idea of being on acid 24/7, of never coming down, was awesome to me... shudder! The Host is 24/7 and it also features visions of a pointy-teethed lil' guy who wants you to kill kill kill. my own hallucinogenic escapades tended to feature pleasant colored wavy things and the need to be in water and dreamy visions of the brotherhood of mankind. The Host's hallucinogenic qualities make participants want to tear limbs from bodies, bathe in blood and laugh like hyenas. different strokes for different folks i guess.

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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherrod I stumbled across his Infernal Devices at a B. Dalton back when it was first published but since I only got to said bookstore like once a year as a young'un that's the only one of his I ever found. Had I known about these back then, I bet I would have gone crazy trying to track them down. Now that I've grown up and decided lurid horror isn't quite my thing... well, damn you, Mark, you've got me all curious about this one.

message 2: by mark (last edited Oct 25, 2012 01:04PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday it was interesting... but i want to warn you that it may mainly be interesting to me because i find the author to be very interesting. i have an auteur type interest in some authors like i do with some directors, in that even their minor works are fascinating things to be searched out and appreciated for their authorial vision. completism i guess. i can see other readers experiencing Dark Seeker and finding it to be somewhat generic. the ending is also rather frustratingly tidy.

message 3: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherrod I have the same auteur/author complex. Don't get me started on Unca Umberto, f'rinstance. Or Papa Sturgeon.

mark monday Sturgeon! i really need to read him.

my auteur complex:

Joyce Carol Oates (good luck to me on trying to read all of her oeuvre!)
Angela Carter
Colin Macinnes
Colin Wilson
Paul Scott
Jack Vance
Michael Moorcock
Tanith Lee
E.F. Benson
E.C. Tubb
Iain Banks
Philip K. Dick
Cordwainer Smith
Robert Aickman
Clark Ashton Smith
Algernon Blackwood
Brian MacNaughton
Don Delillo, although my interest has been fading
and now K.W. Jeter

message 5: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherrod Marry me.

mark monday ::blushes::

message 7: by Nona (new)

Nona If you're interested in giving Jeter's horror writing another shot, I read In Land of the Dead when it was published and I have reasonably good memories of it. The plot borrows heavily from The Postman Always Rings Twice, with supernatural elements that enhance the oppressive atmosphere.

mark monday thanks for the second rec, Nona! sounds interesting. somehow this is actually not in my pile of Jeters.

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