Science Fiction Book Review

Darker Than You Think

Darker Than You Think (1948/2003) Jack Williamson, Gollancz, 6.99, pbk, 266pp, ISBN 0-575-07546-5

Dr. Lamarck Mondrick and his assistants return from a foreign desert carrying a sinister box. Calling a press conference at the airport to tell the world of a remarkable discovery, Mondrick is unable to deliver his warning before being struck dead, apparently through an allergy. Watching newsman, and former student, Will Barbee becomes fascinated by the beautiful April Bell, who he had first met while she was carrying a small black kitten. As Mondrick's widow is sent to a sanitarium, and his assistants start to die, Barbee begins to uncover a conspiracy that threatens the whole human race. Can witches be real, and who is their promised messiah, the Child of Night? Will Barbee foil their plot, or is he being seduced in ways that he can't imagine...?

First appearing as a short story in Unknown magazine in 1940, this was expanded into a novel in 1948. Williamson, born 1908, is still alive as of this writing and his career has spanned some 75 years. This book is number thirty-eight in Gollancz's Fantasy Masterworks series and a fitting addition to it. It will appeal to fans of Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber and anyone who likes their horror with a little dose of SF in it (or who like their SF horrific, depending on your point of view. I recommend it as a great little werewolf/shapeshifter story, even if, by modern standards, it's a bit predictable in places.

Tony Chester

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