As Elizabeth gets more and more settled into her ordinary (if not boring) life, she suddenly gets thrown into a Wild and Dark world of magic, sex, drugs, and horrors beyond her imagination. Austin Case presents Wild, Dark Times and it absolutely lives up to its name. This plot is very well crafted and it is powerfully obvious that Case has done heaps of research for his novel. The plot winds through so many different things that it is an adventure that will keep you guessing and intrigued from start to finish. The “ordinary” person getting tossed into extraordinary situations is a plot we all know and love and will be used an infinite number of more times in stories, but it is there because it works and makes the plot seem more tangible and realistic. Case uses this setup to perfection and takes us out of our “ordinary” lives and into whatever twisted adventure he chooses.
All of the characters are really well done. Austin Case is obviously sure of what he wants each character to be. The two main characters, Elizabeth and Eddy, steal the show for me. Their banter is great and entertaining and it is exciting to watch their chemistry develop. However, they couldn’t be more different. Eddy is gross, and dark and twisted and perverted, but magically mesmerizing. Elizabeth just feels real and I mean that in the best of ways. She seems like an average, regular person who reacts in a realistic way to being thrust into the world of magic, rituals, sex, drugs, psychadelia, fear, and horror She feels real terror, real repulsion, real confusion. She is written in a way that readers can see themselves in her and our feelings toward her are real.
Austin Case is an astonishingly gifted writer. His novel travels across so many locations, emotions, adventures, characters, twists, turns, horrors, and conflicts that would be near-impossible to keep everything organized; nonetheless, Case ringmasters everything and not only keeps it organized, but brings it all to life. One of the most impressive things for me with Case’s writing is that not only does he build this incredible plot and create these worlds and atmospheres that feel shockingly tangible, but he digs into the emotions of the readers. Case toys with emotions like a puppet-master and weaves readers into the plot just as deeply as his fictional characters.
The critique that I have for this novel is more of an opinion-based critique. I also admit, that personally, I enjoyed what I am about to critique, but I know that some people struggled with it. With all the research and information that Case put into his novel, the worlds of magic are often described in a very academic way. Reading it reminded me of reading Melville or Hugo because parts of the novel were purely information. I found it exceptionally interesting and learned a ton about traditions, magics, and the world of darkness that Wild, Dark Times is built around. That being said, I do know that some people who read the book just wanted the plot to move forward and felt that the academic parts slowed the narrative.
I highly recommend Austin Case’s Wild, Dark Times. It is a book that will take you around the world and into a world of magic where nobody is safe. Go here and buy yourself a copy, but be warned of the darkness you are about to enter into.