Brian James Freeman is primarily known for his small, classy press, Lonely Road Books, which just published Stephen King’s novella “Riding the Bullet,” with the screenplay by Mick Garris included. Freeman is also the managing editor of Cemetery Dance magazine.
What most people don’t know is that this very talented man is an author … a writer of speculative fiction. In fact, Freeman is so good at the written word that he could give King and Peter Straub a run for their money.
Freeman’s “The Painted Darkness” is a short novel, but every bit as powerful in character development and cutting-edge prose as the larger tomes that now are being published by the mainstream houses. In other words, this little book is what I consider to be a priceless gem just waiting to be discovered by readers of horror fiction.
The story is centered around a present-day artist named Henry (no last name is given) and what happened to him as a 5-year-old when he encountered an evil so great it changed his life forever. As an adult, Henry has blocked out the incident from his childhood. The effect of it, however, still is evident in the type of paintings he does and in something he soon will discover in the basement of his old house on a cold winter day.
The question for Henry is what is real and what is imagined? One of the reasons Henry is such a talented artist is because of his vivid imagination. Not all the things he sees are real, though it appears to him to be so. He will have to deal with this as he tries to stay alive long enough to survive the onslaught of the evil that’s raging through his home, seeking to finish the job that was started so many years before.
“The Painted Darkness” is the perfect example of how an author paints his own picture with precise and thought-provoking words that are weaved carefully together to enable the reader to not only smell the air, but to taste it as well. Each page comes alive in such a way that you are there in the snow with a young Henry, feeling the coldness seeping through your winter clothes, sensing the thing hunting you through the thick woods, and trying to keep the fear from overwhelming you as you search for the path to safety.
This is a novel that every reader of horror fiction needs to have on his/her bookshelf because Freeman is there as an author with this gripping, fast-paced story that grips you by the throat and throttles you senseless. Once you read “The Painted Darkness,” you’ll want to find everything else this author has written and then burn the midnight oil reading his stories under the sheets of your bed as tree limbs rattle against your bedroom window, letting you know that there could be someone outside in the night, desperate to get in and to make your acquaintance.
Get a copy of this before Amazon or Cemetery Dance sells out. This is definitely what writing is all about.
Wayne C. Rogers is the author of the horror novellas “The Encounter” and “The Tunnels,” both of which can be purchased at Amazon’s Kindle Store for 99 cents each.