Wednesday 3 June 2015

REVIEW: Keith Deininger - Within

Genre: Horror
Publisher: DarkFuse
Publication Date: 5th May 2015
Pages: 240


I received an advance copy of Within by Keith Deininger from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by DarkFuse.

I have only ever read Ghosts of Eden by Keith Deininger before. Although I enjoyed it, I struggled with it a bit. Felt like I had been on a weird “trip” when I had read it. Due to this experience I went at Within a little bit on the cautious side. I knew I liked his writing. I was just a bit freaked out with the previous one. I needn’t have worried.

Mesa Rapids is a weird town. The rich live on the top of the mountain. The poor live in the valley. The horror doesn’t care where it lives.

Wealthy, reclusive art collector, Harold Klimt moves into the dilapidated Upshaw Mansion. He likes to throw lavish parties for the Mesa Rapids elite. Colin Thorne, a young artist, and his friends sneak into a party one night and he inadvertently gets offered a job by Mr Klimt to paint a mural in his basement. He has no idea what he is going to paint and neither has Mr Klimt. Or has he? Being paid huge amounts of money convinces Colin to take the job.

Colin becomes obsessed with his mural. He doesn’t know about the town’s horrific history. He doesn’t know that what he’s doing has the potential to unleash unknown horrors. He will soon find out.

There are a couple of things that become perfectly clear, very quickly when you read something written by Keith Deininger. He can write bloody good stuff and he is not scared to put his own unique twist on stories. Twists that sometimes take you on a trip that makes you question your own sanity as well as what is happening in the story. I’m getting used to this style and I like it. A lot.

There are so many points in this book that made me think of a lot of horror stories and films that have come before. The atmosphere is fantastic. It’s electric. It’s harrowing. It’s weird. It’s full of evil and fantasy and wonderful visions of an almost psychedelic nature. A line that comes up a lot in the story is “is this a dream”. You may find yourself thinking you have just dreamt what you have read.

Our characters in this tale are nothing special. This is about the only thing that sort of let it down for me. They are simple. Not overbearing. No huge characters that stand out more than others. I wanted someone to grab it by the squidgies and take the lead and make everyone else follow them. The only one that came close is a young boy, Zach, who seemed to know more of what was going on than the others. They all fit together perfectly well in the story but I wanted a hero.

This is a tale where the town is small. It’s isolated. No one knows what happens there apart from the people who live in it. Even then, a lot of them don’t know what is going on or don’t want to believe what is going on.

The chapters jump between the different “main” characters seeing things from their point of view. Colin has a portion all of his own where we read some extracts from his journal. The best parts for me were the chapters that dealt with the history of the town and the goings on in the background. The things that were happening were horrific yet most people didn’t know about them. This made things very very eerie for me. You could see the evil happening. You could see it getting worse, growing and growing until it looked like nothing or no one would survive. Fantastic writing to keep you gripped and reading till the very end.

To summarise: this is an atmospheric horror tale set in a small town with loads of weirdness and dream sequences that really give you the feeling you are living in the dreams. It is very creepy. It will definitely make your skin crawl. It is harrowing at times and it has plenty of blood and gore. Fellow passengers on my bus did give me rather funny looks with my reactions to some parts. I am starting too really like Mr Deininger’s stuff. His writing is very very good. Keeps you gripped from page one to the last page. Bravo.

General rating:

★★★★ Practically perfect.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ Creeped me out big style.

You can buy Within here:

Book Synopsis:

Something’s wrong in the eclectic mountain town of Mesa Rapids. Something’s always been wrong. Sometimes its citizens behave in strange ways—sometimes to the point of violence…

When the wealthy and enigmatic art collector Harold Klimt moves into the long dilapidated house known as the Upshaw Mansion, most don’t think twice about it. But when Mr. Klimt begins to throw lavish parties for the town’s elite, Colin Thorne—a young, aspiring artist still grieving over the recent death of his childhood friend—sneaks inside the house to explore, suspicious something's wrong.

What he finds are the buried secrets of a town with a troubled history and something else…a plane of horror so vast that it threatens to alter reality.

Soon after that, Mr. Klimt offers Colin a job—painting a mural in the basement of the Upshaw Mansion. As Colin becomes more and more obsessed with the dark vision he is creating, the horror begins to bubble to the surface of not only his psyche, but the entire town.

An award-winning writer of fantastic and disturbing fiction, Keith Deininger is the author of WITHIN, GHOSTS OF EDEN, and THE NEW FLESH, among others.

He was raised in the American Southwest and currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and four dogs.

He is a sceptic and, some might say, a misanthrope.

You can see more of Keith at his website.

Keith’s author’s page is here.

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