I recently had the privilege of receiving an advanced copy of Darren Dash’s new novel to review, it has been a true thrill to be one of the first people to cast an eye on the latest work from the talented Mr Dash. Here are my thoughts.
An Other Place is the third novel by Darren Dash the adult alias of bestselling YA author Darren Shan. Darren’s tales of vampires, demons and the un-dead have chilled the spines of millions across the globe and earned him the title of the Master of Young Adult Horror. But although a healthy helping of gore and scares are guaranteed in his books for younger readers, all of the author’s adult works have taken the reader in a multitude of diverse new directions and An Other Place is no exception.
The novel tells the intriguingly bizarre story of Newman Riplan, an excessive self-centered I.T. wizard whose world is turned upside down when a weekend-long drink and drugs binge charts the course for a bewildering journey.
When we first meet Newman Riplan, the self proclaimed King Kong of troubleshooters (or I.T. Engineer in plain English), he is in Amsterdam vanquishing viruses from corporate computer systems. While the pretentious Mr. Riplan is at the top of his industry, he has always played harder than he’s worked and the lure of the city’s red light district and his penchant for ladies of the night soon draw him away from his desk.
As he’s enjoying the sights and sensations of the city, Newman discovers his old mates Hughie and Battles are in town, and they quickly resolve to meet-up for drinks. As the pages turn, a few pints swiftly transform into a narcotics-fuelled spree, and when Newman finds himself on a plane full of seemingly inanimate wax mannequins, things take a disorientating turn that would leave Hunter S. Thompson scratching his head in disbelief.
An Other Place is a deliciously quirky novel that is surreal and powerful in equal measure. In the pages of the book Dash has crafted a meticulously detailed alternate reality complete with its own folklore and societal eccentricities. Another standout feature of the story is how well the author amalgamates genres, mixing together sci-fi and horror with fantastical elements to create a wonderfully weird cocktail.
Its immersive storyline drags the reader back and forth between light-hearted scenes underscored by black comedy to morally questionable sequences that hit with the impact of a locomotive.
This is by far Dash’s best work to date. It is challenging and absurd, artistically brave and politically conscious, but this abstract painting of a novel is one thing above all else…