On a lonely mountain, deep in the high desert country of the American Southwest, a rifle-toting nun faces an unexpected test. A scientist makes an incredible discovery at the heart of a melting European glacier, and nine years later finds himself inexorably drawn back to the site. During the Siege of Bastogne, while facing overwhelming odds in the frozen forests of Belgium, a pragmatic young medic encounters a war he never could have imagined. The Florida Everglades exert an irresistible, supernatural pull on a dying man, the last descendant of a great Seminole shaman. A young girl, trapped in a waking nightmare and seemingly without hope, devises her ultimate escape using the most unexpected tools. A group of desperate men, almost out of luck and on the run, find themselves in an eerie Badlands town. Jeremy Baker delivers these tales and more, in a collection of twelve haunting short stories and one novella.
Even the most ordinary day can be full of surprises.
“The Standing Cave” was a thrilling introduction to Mr. Baker’s writing style. I couldn’t imagine what a hunter-gatherer could have to do with the science fiction genre, much less how Mrukk’s quest to hunt down the deer he desperately needed to take down to feed his tribe would be so important later on. When he discovered something extremely unusual on his hunt, I was more fascinated than ever. While I can’t say anything else about the plot without giving away spoilers, I can say that this was my favorite story in the entire book.
Some of this tales in this collection could have used more details. “Bumps War at Bastogne” was a good example of this. It was about a platoon of soldiers who struggled to survive in a particularly bloody battle with the Nazis. The main character had such a matter of fact way of describing even the most harrowing scenes that I was mesmerized by his recollection of what happened that day. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to these soldiers, so it was disappointing to see how briefly the last few scenes were described. There were so many more explanations that could have been added to them about what was going on, especially when it came to the ending.
In “Drawing in the Dark,” a young girl named Kara had the ability to make anything she drew actually happen. The government discovered her talent, kidnapped her, and forced her to draw all kinds of terrible things. What I found most interesting about this character is how maturely she was able to process what had happened to her. She was a child being forced to experience stuff that no child should ever have to think about, much less actually live through. The author captured her loss of innocence so heartbreakingly that I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next to Kara.
I’d recommend Drawing in the Dark to anyone who is in the mood for something creative.