It was not a pleasure to burn

Dream of the Serpent ★ ★ ★ ★
Alan Ryker
DarkFuse, 2014

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dream of the serpentAlan Ryker! Alan Ryker! Alan Ryker!

I’m shouting his name from the rooftops, are you paying attention? This gentleman has got some serious skill people, writing chops to make you quiver and shake.

Dream of the Serpent is only my second Ryker book (the first being The Hoard) but with it he has clinched a spot on my author to watch radar. Color me a smitten kitten.

Burning is the sort of thing that changes you forever. It makes you realize that you’re an animal, that all the rest is pretense.

The prose and pacing is exquisitely rendered here reflecting a maturity and mastery of the craft that is a pleasure to read even when what you are reading is fraught with pain and despair. When I picked up this book I was wholly unprepared to read such a graphic, explicit depiction of a young man’s savage burns and the life he must confront post-fire. It is tragedy at its most gripping and devastating, so poignant and raw and in your face. It’s impossible not to become positively engrossed in Cody’s story and his ultimate fate.

This is not a “horror” story per se, but there is plenty here that is shocking and horrific. It is in its way a love story as well, or at least just what and how much we are willing to sacrifice for those we love. Amongst the punishing bleak detail of excruciating hopelessness, there emerges a twisty, mindfuck tale of second chances that’s mysterious and oh so satisfyingly constructed in its parts.

Bravo Mr. Ryker. Bravo.

A free copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley for an honest review.

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