The good folks at Comet Press have seen fit to release yet another great horror novel for us voracious horror fiends to devour. This time we get Daemon of the Dark Wood by Comet Press alum Randy Chandler. Just about every short story collection they’ve released has had a story from him in it, and honestly that’s been my only exposure to his work. Full disclosure, his stories never really grabbed me in the numerous fantastic collections Comet Press has released. I can’t honestly say why but those stories didn’t connect with me. Daemon of the Dark Wood did connect with me. In a big way. In fact, I’m thinking about going back and re-reading his shorts and giving them a second appraisal. It’s that good.
Daemon of the Dark Wood is about a small rural town that has come under attack from a creature, or quite possibly ancient god, that has the ability to drive the women insane with lust. The carnal kind and the blood kind. It’s up to the sheriff, a psychologist and an anthropologist to figure out how to stop it before the women kill every man in town. Oh yeah, it’s also up to a octogenarian too.
So ok, the book is about Pan, a satyr. The king of the satyrs. And before you get your nerd rage boiling, I’m aware that Brian Keene also wrote a book about a satyr (Dark Hollow) and no I don’t think this book is ripping him off. First of all the whole vibe of this one is totally old school 80s splatter punk with some spooky 70s style creepy going on as well. Secondly, no one owns the rights to mythical creatures. I say, bring em on. I’ll read five more books about satyrs, leviathans, centaurs, and/or minotaurs before I’ll read one more damn zombie or vampire book. Seriously, can we just stop with the zombies already? The sponge has turned to dust at this point.
But what about the book? Like I said it’s full on old school gore and sleaze and reminds me of Edward Lee at the top of his game. The best part is the book tries to put on a respectable front but as the story proceeds it becomes sleazier and sleazier as the satyr’s powers grow. I had a blast reading this. It’s fast paced, fun, and exciting. The characters are all varied and likeable, though I would say there are a few too many. If you’ve enjoyed anything else Comet Press has released, or Leisure for that matter, you’ll dig Daemon of the Dark Wood. It’s fun, fast, and trashy, but with solid writing chops and great descriptions. Randy Chandler is no hack. Hopefully we’ll get a sequel, I’d love to revisit the dark woods and see what else crawls out.