Dark Secrets by Mattew W. Grant is a book I found through one of my horror writers groups. Mr. Grant was trying to find readers/audible listeners in exchange for Amazon reviews, and I have a 45 minute (one way) commute to my day job, so I’m always looking for new audio books to check out! This was my first audio book since “reading” The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer last December, also via long car treks, so clearly I’m not an audio book connoisseur. My last semi-horror audio adventure was Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, so I felt obligated to step away from that family for a little while. (What better opportunity would present itself than to check out Dark Secrets?)
When the Powers of Darkness infest a small New England town…
Rick Williams is the dependable, boy next door type. As his eighteenth birthday approaches, he suddenly experiences violent, unexplainable headaches.
Enter Terrence, a mysterious substitute teacher at the local high school in scenic Maplecrest, Vermont. With Terrence’s encouragement and influence, a group of seemingly normal students turns a routine science lab experiment into a frenzy of sadistic mutilation.
Now the tortured young man, a powerful psychic, and a desperate mother with a hidden past must fight for their lives and their souls against the evil that binds them together and threatens to destroy them all.
Those who live to see the unholy ritual will discover that the Devil always collects his due.
The book is perfect for a YA audience. The main character is a teenage boy and there’s just enough cliche to make him delightful and less annoying than one might imagine when evoking a mental picture of the “boy next door”. Alas, Grant drew further from his book of cliches when designing other characters in this story. The rotund best friend, the “girl next door” who is simultaneously a cheerleader and the main character’s potential love interest. There are a few surprises up Grant’s sleeves when it comes to character design, but they are perhaps too few and far between for most adult audiences. Aside from the characters, the story itself was compelling. Although Grant’s writing style was tailored to a younger audience, it was enjoyable and didn’t detract from the experience. I found that I didn’t want to stop listening to the book, and it made those 45 minute drives seem to fly by since it was packed with enough action and intrigue to keep the plot flowing steadily. I highly enjoyed this book and gave it a 4/5 review on Amazon. Readers should be warned, however, that the book has very dark undertones. When the book mentions it is deeply rooted in the occult, it means it. I personally felt there were adequate references to both light as well as darkness, but if that is a concern you may want to bypass this title for a different book, or read it first.