The Darkening Dream
by Andy Gavin
It is 1913 in Salem, Massachusetts, and teenager Sarah is having dark visions that turn out to be warning her of future events. There are vampires being made, Egyptian gods that are very unhappy, a sorcerer who cannot be killed, and a warlock making deals. Of course, at first, Sarah does not know any of this. She thinks the visions are just her mind being overactive and playing tricks. That is, until she discovers a boy’s mangled corpse, attends the funeral of the boy, and then sees the boy seemingly as alive as can be after being buried- and a Greek boy, Alex, who can explain it all.
The Darkening Dream is not your typical YA vampire story,
as has become the standard fare of today. There is no glittering and falling in love with a vampire who denies his true nature. Instead, it is a story that maintains the standard lore of vampires, and foregoes romance for an ages old conspiracy that puts Sarah right in the middle of it all. Her visions have led her to learning and understanding the world in a way she never would have thought possible, and Alex has lived it long enough to know what must be done.
Gavin has created a complex story that does not cater to the idea of vampires and demons being tortured souls who want nothing more than to break free from it all. Instead, he gives us a story where such beings have no soul and are out to survive by destroying everything in their way. It is not meant to comfort and pull on our heartstrings. It is meant to terrify us and see something in every shadow; to make us really wonder if there are older and darker forces at work that we will never know.
In the end, the story has been woven in a masterful manner, and it is difficult to know who to trust. It brings in the conflict of religions in a way that is not often done so subtle, yet complex. The attention to Jewish mysticism, as well as that of Christianity, that was present throughout the book, served to create a certain amount of tension, as well as adding to the gothic atmosphere.
The importance of religion in the story also served to explain the characters’ motives in a way that would otherwise not be as meaningful.
Gavin has given us a dark and gothic story that maintains the complex storyline right until the very end. It is intended for the YA audience, but brings to mind the feeling of the world created by Bram Stoker or Anne Rice, making the darkness almost palpable. Although, at times, the description is a bit on the heavy side, the story never suffers because of it. Rather, it is simply to create additional atmosphere throughout. The ending may leave some saddened and disappointed, the fan of darker fiction will realize it could have ended no other way. Gavin has left it open for a sequel that will surely carry on the fine balance of religion, mysticism, mythology, and the supernatural that is so finely crafted in The Darkening Dream.