Dark Father by James Cooper is a suspense thriller from DarkFuse, so it represents a bit of a departure from the standard horror fare. The novel’s structure involves three parallel story lines which alternate across chapters. All have a similar theme; namely, individuals trying to deal with brutal events that occur within abusive families. To provide more detail about the narrative would spoil (to some degree) the dramatic plot that propels the reader along a breakneck pace. The unfolding story lines are spellbinding, and the dilemmas faced by the characters are ghastly. The writing is strong, and the characterizations are nicely portrayed. There is a bit of a downside to the work, however. In order to make the parallel lines intersect into a coherent whole at the end, the author is forced to rely on some farfetched contrivances. I thought these strained credibility and found myself muttering, “Oh, come on…” on more than a few occasions. A character suffers an extreme injury and is still able to keep going beyond human limits, characters disappear, and some characters experience trauma that causes them to descend into psychoses (this does not happen). If you are able to overlook these unbelievable set ups, this is a riveting story. I still give it a 3.5 (rounded to 4.0) for being a gripping, entertaining read.
Anthony Hains is a horror & speculative fiction writer.