Title: Light Up the Dark
Author: Suki Fleet
Length: 349 Pages
Category: Suspense/Thriller, Horror, Bisexual Romance
At a Glance: If this novel is any barometer, then it is done with incredible pathos, outstanding descriptive prose and unforgettable characters. I highly recommend Light Up the Dark to you.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: For two years Nicky has wandered the dark empty corridors of the overgrown Thorn Hall, unseen and untouched, feeling like a ghost. His only company, the cold man who promised to keep him safe from harm, Lance.
But when Lance dies, Nicky’s assurance of safety disintegrates and his world suddenly becomes a lot more real and a lot more dangerous. Scared to leave the house, Nicky longs for daylight. He employs a gardener to clear the over-grown bushes and vines that have nearly swallowed Thorn Hall whole.
The last thing Nicky expects a little light to do is show him something to fight for.
Eighteen months in a young offenders’ institute has taught Cai two things: he occupies the playful puppy end of the How Dangerous Are You? spectrum, and he has an unfortunate knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Desperate for a job, he takes the first offer he gets. Even though Thorn Hall creeps the hell out of him and he barely knows one end of a pair of garden shears from the other.
Things start to fall apart when Cai is drawn into Nicky’s strange world of sticky notes and secrets. Cai finds he is now a target, blamed for a crime he didn’t commit. Desperate not to go back to prison, he digs deep and risks all the good things in life to help Nicky run.
But now Nicky has someone he wants to protect, he knows he can’t run any more.
Review: I have hemmed and hawed over the writing of this review. This novel by Suki Fleet will not be everyone’s cup of tea. In many ways, it is a horror novel—a scary, mysterious story and an unusual tale of romance that nearly doesn’t come to fruition. In other ways, it is a tale of abuse, of unimaginable torture inflicted, and of life threatening despair that is thankfully, slowly reversed for only some of the survivors in this tale. Still, in another view it is a story of redemption, of survival and of rebirth—but at a terrible cost to the ones who manage to crawl back into the light from the deep, dark place they had been hidden in. No, this novel will not be for everyone, and it is most certainly not without some flaws, but I can honestly say that the incredible breadth and scope of this story overcomes any of those minor problems one can find, and the breath-taking way in which this author composes paragraph after paragraph outweighs any plot weaknesses.
First, let me stand in true rebellion and tell you that if you are looking for a synopsis of this story, you will have to read the author’s blurb for I am not going to even attempt to summarize this 300-plus page book, primarily due to the fact that in doing so I will give much too much away—and this one is indeed something you must discover firsthand. Take my word for it that this story is a taut psychological thriller that has more twists and turns than any other horror/mystery you have ever read before. Secondly, I am going to focus on what works in this book—for that, we must start with the five main characters, one of which is the mansion itself.
There are times when the setting for a novel makes or breaks the entire story—this is one such time. Were author Suki Fleet any less adept at writing descriptive prose and creating intense ambiance with her words, this place, Thorn Hall, that held both Nicky and Cai captive in so many ways, would have just been another tumbled down, crumbling estate. Instead, it became a malevolent character—breathing fear and tension into each chapter, and housing both the most insane and terrible secrets a house could possibly hold. It reeked of violence, terror, and just plain creepiness, making each moment spent there more horrifying than the last. I hated this house—the grounds that surrounded it, and every tree, shrub and bush that hid it. That is how strong the images the author created affected me.
The secondary characters in this novel ran the gamut from hateful and conniving to dark and creepy. But the two that stood out and really redeemed this novel in so many ways were Loz and Sophie. Loz, who is non-binary, does not identify as either male or female but is most definitely attracted to Sophie. Sophie is the daughter of Cai’s half-sister, one he wasn’t even aware he had until fifteen months earlier. Katy has since died, leaving Sophie in Cai’s care as her guardian, a rather daunting responsibility for a young man who seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time through no fault of his own.
Loz and Sophie represent both young love and new beginnings in this story; theirs is a solid relationship grounded in mutual respect and despite their tender age and hard upbringings, they retain such innocence in many ways. There is no way you can read about them and not fall in love with this dynamic pair who will, in the end, do everything they can to save both Cai and Nicky from the evil that threatens to destroy them.
Then, there is Cai and Nicky themselves. Two very lost souls—barely hanging on to an existence that both find suffocating. Cai, who lives in fear that he will never be able to make something of himself, that he will always be that boy who caused a horrible accident that led to another losing his life, and though he has paid his sentence in jail, it is a shadow that hangs over him every moment of every day. And Nicky. Oh my, what can I say about this young man? His life, which is barely hinted at, one that led him to be a drunken and drugged dancer barely surviving on his own, abducted, tortured, and then held prisoner for two long years… He is perhaps the bravest yet most terrified hero a story could have. When these two come together, when they finally find the courage to believe in themselves and each other, it is absolutely earth shattering.
Light Up the Dark is more than just a dark horror story with a twisting plot that leaves you gasping and terrified of what may come next. It is also a story of love…of hope…and of rebirth. It begs the question just how much can one person endure and still claw their way back to the land of the living? How does one finally escape from the darkest shadows to move into the blazing light? If this novel is any barometer, then it is done with incredible pathos, outstanding descriptive prose and unforgettable characters. I highly recommend Light Up the Dark to you.
You can buy Light Up the Dark here: