Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pitch Dark

Pitch Dark by Steven Sidor
St. Martin's Press, April 2011
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9780312354145

It’s Christmas Eve, and Vera Coffey is on the run. She doesn't know the men who are after her. She has never seen them before, but she has seen the horrors they visit on people who don’t give them what they want. Vera has something they want badly. She’d give it up if it weren’t the only thing keeping her alive.
The Larkins have known the toll violence takes on a family ever since they were trapped in a madman’s shooting rampage. They've been coping with the trauma for nearly twenty years. Now, on a cold and lonely winter morning, Vera collapses at their roadside motel. And she’s brought something with her. Together they'll have to make one last stand against an evil that has followed them further than anyone could've imagined.
With a thriller so fast-paced that it’s impossible to let go and an ominous sense that everything is destined to go wrong, Pitch Dark is an intense read from a master of suspense.

My Thoughts:

In Pitch Dark by Steven Sidor it is Christmas Eve and Vera Coffey is on the run. She has stolen an artifact, an artifact that her boyfriend had stolen for Horus Whitehead and a cult called the Pitch. Now she is being pursued by unknown, murderous cult members. Just outside of a small town in northern Minnesota, Vera picks up Adam, a nineteen year old college student who has run out of gas. Adam is the son of Wyatt and Opal Larkin. The Larkins, survivors of a shooting spree that occurred almost twenty years earlier, now run a motel in American Rapids, MN. While shooting rampage left Wyatt with one eye and unanswered questions, it enabled Opal to have visions.

As a snow storm moves in, Adam directs Vera to the motel. Also staying at the motel is pulp fiction writer Max Caul. Max knows the Pitch is much more than a simple cult - or a plot device for his novels. He has encountered Horus before. The importance of Opal's visions is clear to Max, who stays at their motel every year, but not to the Larkins.

Once all the characters and backstory are in place, Pitch Dark is a fast-paced supernatural thriller and a quick read. Although Vera, for me, is not a very compelling character, the Larkins and Max are, so once they are introduced the story is more intriguing. I did note, however, that none of the other characters are given the some level of care that Max receives. We are even told very specifically what kind of soda Max drinks and microwave popcorn he likes.

There also are some elements of the plot that feel familiar, for example: all sorts of evil converging on a small town, during a snow storm and a small band of people trying to keep a relic from an evil hoard. Furthermore there are parts of the story that are never fully explained or important details are missing. I'll have to admit that I didn't care for the ending at all. For me, the novel started out very strong and then ended weak, with an opening for a sequel.

All in all, Pitch Dark did hold my attention. I'll recommend it.

Be sure to check out Sidor's website for A Chunk of Hell, a free prequel story to Pitch Dark. Sidor writes on his blog: "The story is a pulp weird tale written by one of the characters. It triggers all the events in the book."

Disclosure: I received this novel through the Goodreads First Reads program.


After her second close encounter in the last twenty-four hours, she couldn’t hold back the fear. Death had Vera on the run. She knew what to expect now. She had witnessed him up close. Death had shown his face to her in that West Side greystone back in Chicago. Six times over he did it. pg. 8

Horus believed in destiny, and in destinations foretold. He didn't believe in maps. Not the kind other people used. He carried a numerical tapestry in his head. It scrolled by constantly. A secret GPS system guided his every move. pg. 11

Horus Whiteside entered the unnatural blaze.
He believed he was not a man at all.
He was part of a larger whole hat reached back for Eternity.
The Pitch. pg. 14

His devoted believers, small in number, their fervor and willingness to please made all the difference. They were devoted. He hoped he had enough of them this time to get the job done.
He faced the gathering.
"Praise the darkness. My brothers and sisters, we must be thorough. We must be vicious in our quest. Tonight the thief has confessed that his girlfriend took the artifact and ran away." pg. 15

This woman was still his wife. True. He worried about her. Yes, constantly. Because... when Opal spoke, more often than not, a torrent of words flooded forth, as if she couldn't get them out of her mouth fast enough..... She spoke of a malignancy strangeness lurking in the world. She had walking nightmares. Darkness, she said, crept through the streets and entered people's hearts while they themselves were unaware of the changes taking place.
Demons lived among us. pg. 18

After the shooting.
Wyatt had taken a bullet in his lung. A broken dagger of glass hung in his eye. That hadn't been the worst of it.
Opal, his pregnant wife, spread out and dying on the restaurant floor. He saw her blood. pg. 26

She had her visions, too. Once or twice after the shooting, then not for years, and now they'd come back.
With a vengeance. pg. 38

"The Pitch are coming for you. Leave now. The Pitch are coming." pg. 51

Opal didn't appear to understand the importance of her visions.
Max wasn't about to explain. Not now. How could he? No one would believe him. He'd learned the hard way how reluctant people were to give up their assumptions about reality. pg. 53

Chan told her about his special assignment. A freaky group needed him to steal something for them. They couldn't do it themselves. It wasn't the danger involved that bugged them, it was freak rules. They were a kind of sect and another sect took their stuff. They wanted it back. He didn't ask too many questions.... Vera thought it sounded too weird. She didn't like the name the group called themselves, either.
The Pitch. pg. 61

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