Since the publication of his debut novel in late 2010, Western Australian author Daniel I Russell has continuously moved forward to create a paradigm of horror fiction with great gifts of invention stamped throughout every outing. In what is perhaps his most prolific year yet, 2012 has given rise to both Critique and The Collector respectively. Here we have a dark fiction author that is never afraid to push boundaries, does not shy away from the visceral, and is still developing a voice that becomes more unique with each successive tale.
Mario Fulcinni has seen it all. After years working in the adult film industry he’s ready to try out new pleasures that belong to a different school of thought – something to dull the pain of a lifetime of fruitless pursuits and unsatisfying addictions. At the urging of an agent he attends Metus House, a mysterious mansion that promises the tour of a life time. The house’s mystery only adds fuel to pyre, and soon Mario is swept up by an aging debonair escort (Worth) who shows Mario a realm where horror, terror, and fantasy will all be used to define fundamental human states.
A story of novella length, Come Into Darkness is still crammed full of everything we’ve come to expect from Daniel. Light on prose, heavy on dialogue, this is biting narrative simplicity and easy to digest. Room by room, Mario is exposed to a past, present, and future that’s like a Faustian pact with the Devil. Through the trail of suffering, Mario and a fellow traveller will witness their sins come to life.
While not as ambitious as Critique, this story is still layered with enough subtext to find a method in the madness. For those averse to extreme horror (such as the imagery presented in the SAW franchise), there will be more than one scene to evoke feelings of horror – perhaps even revulsion. Yet we still find elements of sophistication here, and enough emotional import to gently remind us of an old truism so pertinent in horror fiction ... that Hell itself is repetition.