Author: Adam Starks
Originally Self-Published in 2021
Review by Miriam Atkinson
The premise of In the Dark of Eden by Adam Starks is an intriguing one. This story focuses on a fictionalised version of the West Virginia town of Eden. A paranormal mystery surrounds the town as, according to legend, located somewhere in the nearby forest and Appalachian mountains is the Fountain of Youth. Everyone who enters the forest either vanishes or wakes up in their beds the next morning with no memory of how they got there.
The world building aspect of the novella is definitely one of its strengths. The more Starks described the mystery of Eden and the history of the area the more engaged I became and the more I wanted to learn about this place. Used primarily to set up the upcoming chapter of the story, these descriptive sections were amongst my favourite scenes in the novella.
Another strength of In the Dark of Eden is its dialogue. The dialogue for protagonist Tyhannon, and in particular waitress Nevaeh, really captures the southern American accent. The accent within the dialogue is so clear that I could instantly hear it in my head as I was reading the words. Another plus is that each character spoke in a distinct style so it was also very easy to tell the characters apart from just their dialogue.
The novella did have the odd punctuation error but this did not detract from the overall story. There was one section which confused me as it did not know if it was intentional or accidental. The first six pages of chapter one are repeated what seems to be word-for-word in the middle of chapter two. If this duplication was deliberate then, in my opinion, the repeated section in chapter two would have been more effective if one of the characters had commented upon feeling as though they were reliving the same moment. This would alleviate the reader’s confusion and signal to them that something strange was happening to the town and its inhabitants.
In the Dark of Eden is a mixture of great world building, realistic dialogue, an interesting mystery, and the occasional confusing scene where the reader is left wondering what is real and what (if anything) is imagined. At the start of the novella Starks indicates that this will be the first story in the trilogy. The series has potential, depending on where Starks chooses to take the plot. It may be the case that the reader will need to read all three novellas to fully understand everything that happens in this first story.
WARNING: In the Dark of Eden does contain an explicit sexual scene making this story unsuitable for younger readers.
‘In the Dark of Eden’ was published on Reedsy Discovery in June 2021. This review is also available on Discovery’s website.
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