Book Review: “The Painted Darkness” by Brian James Freeman

freeman“The Painted Darkness” is a short novella that walks two timelines of a boy / man named Henry who happens to be an artist. He has a traumatic experience as a child and uses his art as a way of warding off the darkness. And, of course, (since this is a horror story), that darkness may be more real than he imagined.

As a horror story, this left me wanting. So let me make an argument for a different way of looking at this book, because if you approach this as an allegory, it becomes a deceptively clever little tale.

While the idea of “the tortured artist” is a cliche unto itself, like most cliches, there’s some truth behind the theory. Henry is without a doubt the epitome of tortured artists, a man who loses himself in his hobby, not even remembering what he paints as he does so. But when he doesn’t, “the darkness” comes a-knocking. His wife puts up with his hobby, not really understanding or appreciating it or his talent, but in the end, it’s this talent that ends up saving him (and his family).

Turn “the darkness” into the void of depression, “the monster” into Henry himself when lost within its grip, and the fluidity between past and present becomes a quite accurate depiction of that state of mind. It’s only in Henry’s ability to use his talents that he is in fact exercising his demons and keeping that darkness at bay, not only from himself, but his family.

“Henry never understands exactly why his paintings are what they are, no matter how many times he tries to decipher what’s happening inside his mind. He simply paints or draws what he sees in his head, and doing so keeps his dreams sane.”

Far from perfect, but still a great little story. As a fan of Freeman’s work, I wouldn’t categorize this as one of his best, but it accomplishes what he set out to do. And to all you authors out there, keep painting, I mean writing, to keep that Darkness at bay.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Painted Darkness” by Brian James Freeman

  1. Hi Behrg! Nice review of Brian’s book. It is a great story. I read this book in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. On a personal note, I met Brian online after reading Shivers a few years ago. I told him that I was an aspiring horror writer trying to get something published, and that I looked forward to reading this book when I could afford to buy it. I was studying different horror authors works, ( and still do) in an effort to get an idea of just how to put a story together. A few days later, I received a copy of “The Painted Darkness” in the mail. Brian not only took the time to mail me a copy, but as I opened it, I saw a personal note on the first page where he wrote, “To Mike, I hope you enjoy reading the book!.” He had signed it for me. This book sits on a bookshelf in my bedroom proudly sandwiched between all seven Shivers volumes (which took me months to find as they are out of print) and several books by my other pal, Kealan Patrick Burke. Brian is a great guy, writer, and someone I’m proud to call my friend, as is Kealan. Every horror writer I’ve met since then has always asked how’s my work coming, do I know so and so, and have encouraged me on the way to keep at it. They have also offered to answer any questions I might have as a new writer. You guys are a great group of men, and I’m always amazed by who knows who in the industry, and the encouragement from one another to see each other succeed, in this business of writing. If you recall Behrg, it wasn’t so long ago that I met you on Facebook. You sent some nice comments my way. Proud to be associated with all of you!
    Your friend,

    Mike Limon
    Ventura, California

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike – what an awesome story!! I haven’t had the chance to connect w/ Brian (other than fanboying his work), but have heard only great things about him.

      Like you, I’m amazed at the generosity of those I’ve come in contact with. There’s definitely a sense of selflessness without a need for reciprocity. Kealan Patrick Burke, Joe Hart, Michaelbrent Collings, just to name a few, have all graciously answered questions of mine as I started this journey.

      How goes your writing adventures so far? Where are you in the process?


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