For those who don’t already know…Poppet is a fellow contemporary writer of immense talent whom I greatly admire.
I am very pleased that Poppet’s fabulous novel — Darkroom — has now been published by Wild Wolf Publishing of the UK. I have read every word and I can heartily recommend it.
Here’s my review:
Darkroom is a psychological thriller of enormous power and intensity that both shocks and entertains. Author Poppet has negotiated a very difficult balancing act with deftness and panache to produce a highly readable account of a brutal tormenter and his trusting prey. In a fast-paced and constantly involving narrative the obscene and obtuse ‘logic’ of the insane – predicated on the self-justifying misinterpretation of religious texts – is revealed to the reader; putting us inside the mind of Victor/Vengeance, a dangerous sociopath who believes he is licensed in his depraved behaviour by an ultimate authority. At the same time we are shown the heart and soul of his victim, Shauna – a spirited, engaging and trusting young woman who seeks only love and security and whom Victor repeatedly manipulates, abuses and violently attacks.
With its candid and unflinching portrayal of violence – especially that against women – this is sometimes not an easy book to read…but it is always (repeat: always!) riveting. Nor is the violence gratuitous in any way – emanating instead from a terrible backdrop of convincing realism to arrive at an exemplary development of both plot and character. In an era of ‘torture porn’ movies and video games of equally dubious ethics, it would be a glib and lamentable error to miscast or misinterpret Darkroom as belonging to either of these disposable and disreputable genres. In stark contrast, Poppet’s latest book is conceptually brilliant – modern horror writing at its finest; laying bare the twisted psyche behind the mask of the abuser and exposing (rather than glamorising) the mindset that leads to ‘torture porn’ whether for public consumption (as in movies/games)…or for debased private gratification (as in the case of warped protagonist Victor/Vengeance). Once this is understood, the genius of the motif of photography (and of the ‘darkroom’ itself) that runs throughout the narrative can be understood: the camera ‘never lying’ (and capturing the true essence of the person/personality) and the darkroom (the scene of development and exposure in both literal and metaphorical terms) functioning as the catalyst to expose truth itself (however ugly and repellant). Another central theme is the redemptive power of love – and the question of whether it can really ‘conquer all’ or, indeed, whether we can ever really recognise the ‘real thing’ from a cynical pastiche or a warped distortion. This is indeed a thought-provoking read.
Above and beyond all of this, however, the true litmus test for any novel is whether it engages the reader and keeps him/her turning the pages. In the case of Darkroom the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’ on all counts. You will find yourself reading through your fingers in some places and your emotions will feel like they are having a tug of war on a switchback ride! Every chapter ends on a tantalising cliffhanger and the pace/suspense never drops. Most of all, you will become deeply involved with the characters – hoping to somehow slip between the pages to warn Shauna of the perils facing her (or to sweep her away from danger altogether). Good books will do this – capture and involve your emotions. Darkroom is a good book – in fact, it is among the very best of our own era – and I can thoroughly recommend it to you now. Best keep the lights on full while you read this one, though – you really won’t want to read it in a dark room!
Keep a close eye on that Poppet amigos! She’s multi-talented! 🙂
Poppet’s website on Weebly: