Gathering Books generally review books that we personally chose and acquired. Occasionally we get books from publishers (or their representatives) which we gladly take on. In other instances, we get emails from authors, most often self-published or independently published, requesting that we review their books. It is here we hesitate. What we often find ourselves asking is, if we didn’t like it and we review it honestly, would the author take it? We’ve heard of stories of authors being mad at the blogger for not liking his/her work and this isn’t a welcome prospect for us, as book bloggers. So far, I think this is only the second e-book that we’ve reviewed via direct contact from the author and Joshua Boeringa made saying YES worth it.
The common connotation, though not necessarily true, about self-published authors is that the writing must be too bad to be published by respectable publishers. While some prove this statement true, others have proven it wrong as well. It is a gem to find the latter. We got Dread of Night two months ago via email. Moreover, since Gathering Books has a long list of books to review given our theme we informed the author we’ll probably review it around June. I was assigned the task. There were two things that prevented me from reading this book immediately (well, outside of my busy schedule): 1) it’s in pdf format, and 2) its self/independently-published. However, like any good student, I took on the work with as much dedication as reading any other book I personally selected. It took a while. I read a chapter at a time as I was reading via my laptop. While this book does not necessarily fall under the detective-crime genre, it falls within the mystery theme for or May/June Bimonthly theme, hence a June review. :)
Dread of Night is a collection of stories that can be compared to urban legends. The stories remind me of childhood stories told to me to keep me in the house late evenings or to force me to bed early. They aren’t necessarily gruesome or hair raising but they are enough to make kids hide beneath their blankets and follow their elders. I like how these stories can fit into various landscapes and countries. Reading Boeringa’s stories remind me of how much I enjoyed as a child shows like Are you afraid of the Dark?, Eerie Indiana, and Twilight Zone. It isn’t about the constant fear that lurks within you that makes these stories work, it’s the extraordinary events happening within an ordinary situation, whether it’s while you’re waiting for the bus, driving in a blizzard or renting out a room that makes it creepy if not scary.
Dread of Night targets Middle age to Young adult readers and I think the way the stories are laid out and told fit the target reader. It’s almost like Avi’s book Strange Happenings. The storytelling is almost similar and some of the situations quite the same to Avi’s collection of stories. While Boeringa’s stories are not necessarily new in concept, he gives it enough twist to make it fascinating. For older readers, one must approach this book with some suspension of disbelief, however for younger readers seeking some scare this book is perfect. If I were to name a favorite in this book, it would be Teddy. The twist in the end was a nice surprise to an old saying of “don’t talk to strangers” or “don’t let strangers in the house.”
Dread of Night is a wonderful book and has great potential. If I were to improve on anything in the book, I would say it requires a bit more tightening or editing. For certain stories there was some editorializing or commentary (a pet peeve of mine) that took away from the effect or mood of the narrative. It stood out as it added an unnecessary pause to the suspense. However, these were few and far between that could either be overlooked or reworked with fresh eyes. The volume’s title I also felt didn’t give the collection much justice. The title was too generic and too much of a giveaway to make this book seem cliché when it isn’t. Do I have a suggestion? Maybe not, but like Avi’s Strange Happenings or Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors I feel it deserves a stronger title that truly captures its content. Again, this is too minor to give the book demerit. Lastly, the illustrations are generally wonderful, they help the imagination create the images in the reader’s mind. Yet, I feel, rather than mere character images, some movement to the images would have been wonderful. Maybe, the image of the young boy chopping wood or throwing wood in the fire in the story Nice and Toasty to create a better dynamic between story and image.
However, that’s me being too picky. And while I point out areas of improvement for this collection. I think the author has done well in presenting his stories and giving his readers something to consider and think about when they get lost in the woods, go out to fish or let in a new housemate.