Book Review: “Comes the Dark” Book 1 of The Dark Trilogy by Patrick D’Orazio

While reading Patrick D’Orazio’s zombie novel, I kept thinking about the classic zombie films that form the foundation of this beloved genre; well-designed zombies and gore that still put CGI cartoon films to shame are the highlights of the classic Romero and Fulci films. Memorable scenes are ingrained in the consciousness of those who still enjoy them; with D’Orazio’s Comes the Dark, we’re treated to a zombie tale that Tom Savini would be proud of.

Patrick D'orazio Comes the DarkThe imagery is paramount to the novel’s progression; the details underscore characterization and allow for the story to come alive. Our two principle characters are Jeff and Megan; “average Joe” types who struggle with the emotional cost of their new world. This seems like a rather simple and over-used premise; however, the interaction between the characters is well-articulated and their evolution throughout the story is a testament to D’Orazio’s skill as a storyteller. Is this a story where two people from different worlds, who are both coping with loss, end up falling in love with each other? That sounds predictable and done to death, doesn’t it? From the unsettling opening chapter, we learn that we have no ability to make predictions based on what we’ve read before. This is a work that stands alone; when we’re introduced to Megan, we have no expectations, and the intrigue that drives the story forward through the devastated landscape and its variety of well-developed characters allows a reader to feel both uncomfortable and invested; these people are US.

The method by which D’Orazio delivers his narrative is the focal point; you won’t find video game zombies in this book. No war against a bunch of anonymous looking “things” that are getting their heads blown off. D’Orazio is a zombie designer; nightmarish undead cannibals are painted with words, as is the gore. The tone in the novel isn’t nihilistic, which is important to note, considering the amount of detail that goes into the descriptions. Make no mistake—the book is dark—but we don’t feel hopeless; Jeff is willing to do what it takes to survive, and his courage can be inspiring, considering the circumstances. We can believe in Jeff—and Megan—because they’re victims; just because they survived the initial outbreak doesn’t mean they’re better off, emotionally or physically. I daresay the book does a better job with the emotional toll than the Lori-Rick fiasco in everyone’s favorite zombie television show…

I’ve read a number of zombie books that I don’t review; one of the most important things they’re lacking is the substance that fills the pages of D’Orazio’s story: zombies that reach out from the pages, and a beautiful American wasteland. For post-apocalyptic thrills, this is a zombie classic. I could see the zombies coming for me, and I could feel the desperation of our protagonists.

If you enjoy zombie fiction, this is a must-read.

By chance have you read the book?