Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: The Dark Verse

The Dark Verse
Volume One
From the Passages of Revenants
M. Amanuensis Sharkchild
Available through Amazon and from

In a nutshell, if you like taking a white-knuckled ride into the darker corners of the imagination, then this is a book for you.

The first thing you notice about this book is the graphic presentation.
It's a hard cover, black in color with an intricate silver foil illustration on the front .  Open the book and the end papers are artwork unto themselves, the paper is heavy grade, and each story has it's own individual illustration on its first page (illustrations courtesy of John F. Stifter)  The design alone tells you you're not in for the same old short story collection.
Our author, the enigmatic M. Amanuensis Sharkchild compiled this volume from material for his spoken word podcast, The Dark Verse.
Collected here are 26 of those stories, stories as lovingly crafted as the book itself is.  The term "wordsmith" comes to mind in describing Sharkchild's writing...he uses words to paint exquisite portraits of the fantastic, the wonderful, the terrible, the horrible.

Stand outs include "Gift of the Crossroads", where a scrap of fabric found in the kitchen begins one man's nightmare odyssey.  At one point as I was reading this story, I literally exclaimed out loud "God! Dude!", over a turn of events, and continued to the following page and gasped out loud.  That rarely if ever happens when I'm reading anything.
"The Missing Come Home" details one father and the loss of his daughter and her unexpected return and the horrifying consequences which ensue, rather than a joyous homecoming.
"The Captive Inside" which will make me forever think twice about wishing for a dusty old toy shop to dig through and whiling away the hours working a jigsaw puzzle (and for me that's saying something as I like and am fairly skilled at jigsaw puzzles).
There are two stories, "The Changing Feyth Part One" and "The Changing Feyth Part Two", that are crying to be developed into one full-length novel of their very own.  

The book is obviously a labour of love and artistry in the way it's presented.
Nearly every story, while more than able to stand alone on it's own as a self-contained jewel, could be expanded to a novel-length exploration.
It's as if each story is but a fleeting glimpse into one universe of the insane and horrific.
Yes, the writing is that good.

The cost of the book is $22.99 - and well worth it.

To find out more about M. Amanuensis Sharkchild, please visit: