Bill Hussey's debut is a work of startling imagination. With a haunting narrative voice and vivid imagery, Hussey paints a melancholic – yet beautiful - tapestry that readers won't forget. His is a welcome voice to horror, because like Robert Dunbar and Gary Braunbeck, he writes with a literary sensibility that elevates horror to an art form. Indeed, this is much more than horror; it's an epic tale of good versus evil, sacrifice, and the enduring goodness of the human soul, despite its flaws.
Inspector Jack Trent lives alone. While many struggle with their “demons”, Jack has real demons in his head. They show him things. Make him dream. Lead him to astounding leaps of logic that make him a legendary police investigator. They also show him potential outcomes, visions of the future.
However, along with their gifts they offer a curse also: they invade others through touch and closeness. After accidentally losing his mother to “Them” as a boy, Jack becomes withdrawn, always afraid to subject others to “Their” attentions. Even after years of rigid discipline, he's unable to sustain his relationship with Dawn Howard, a fellow officer. Smart, witty, tough, she seems the perfect companion. It's not to be, however. As he and Dawn draw closer, he feels “Them” awakening, and he's forced to end things between them.
They must still work together, however. With perhaps the worst timing ever, they're given a case that threatens to destroy both them and their loved ones. A young man has gone missing from the village of Crow Haven, and as he digs deeper into the mystery, Jack unearths an ages-old evil that lives off of one thing: fear. Our fears. As Jack and Dawn follow the rabbit-trails further into the wilderness, the demons in his head stir, showing him frightening visions of his failure. At the end of winding path through the forest, Jack sees his destiny, and its darkness threatens to consume him.
Hussey deftly mines mythical and religious lore, crafting a work that's meant to be consumed leisurely in order to appreciate its full value. This is horror artistically rendered, and while some may consider it a slow burn, readers with classical backgrounds with appreciate it for its rich story. Though taste is a question of aesthetics and there's plenty of room in the horror genre for all sorts of voices and styles, novels like these show horror's ultimate potential: the terrible yet awesome juxtaposition of humankind's greatest dreams and worst nightmares.