The Darkness Within by Robert Friedrich

WITHIN
The Darkness Within by Robert Friedrich
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Action/Adventure, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (106 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A past long forgotten, a mysterious reading in space, an unprepared crew and an unforgivable Darkness.

A Captain who suffered a terrible accident causing him amnesia, and his crew of the salvage ship “LIGHTARK” stumble upon a mysteries reading far in space. As they investigate they uncover a terrible secret that shall ultimately decide their fate. Will the Captain and his crew be able to survive, or will they be consumed by the Darkness that lurks at the edge of space.

To what extent are our personalities determined by our memories? Is forgetting the past the same thing as if those events never happened?

As soon as Captain Roberts and his crew notice bizarre readings coming from what ought to be an uninhabited part of space I couldn’t wait to find out what it was they’ve discovered. The first few scenes were so well-paced that I felt like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book.

The lack of character development made it difficult for me to connect emotionally with any of the crew members of Lightark. I had trouble understanding their motivation for behaving in certain ways as the plot progresses, and in most cases their intentions and thought processes are never really explained. While I understand that a plot-centered work such as this one may not be designed to explore these things in depth, I was hoping that the issue would be raised eventually. The characters also didn’t seem to understand one another despite working together in very close quarters for what appears be a long period of time. I would have preferred to see more time spent exploring why their professional relationships were so uncommunicative. It could have easily provided more tantalizing clues about what was happening to them, and it was one of the most interesting aspects of the second half of the adventure in particular.

After the first plot twist I had some trouble determining what was really going on. Mr. Friedrich doesn’t tell his readers that the captain is disoriented and afraid, he drags you into the middle of what is happening and offers only as many explanations as as strictly necessary to keep the plot moving along. This technique works well for this book because of how many seemingly inconsequential details the author includes in these passages. I appreciate it when an author expects his or her audience to use common sense to help uncover what is really happening, and there are many opportunities to do so in this tale.

There are numerous grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors in this story. While most of the mistakes don’t affect the meaning of the text, in a few instances I was genuinely unsure of what the author was trying to say. Many scenes switch rapidly between present tense and past tense, and this only added to my confusion. Had the book undergone a more vigorous editing process it would have earned a much higher rating as the premise is intriguing.

On a positive note, Mr. Friedrich clearly poured a lot of effort into his metaphors. I was repeatedly surprised by his clever use of language to describe emotions and experiences that are difficult to put into words. His ability to approach even the most mundane experiences as if his characters are trying these things for the very first time piques my curiosity.

I would recommend The Darkness Within to anyone who enjoys creative and occasionally non-linear horror stories that require some effort from the reader in order to reveal their secrets.

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