*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
The night air clung to Eddy. Rain from summer storms had drenched the city earlier that week, leaving a humid pall in their wake. He stood on the sidewalk in front of a single-story house whose brick facade emitted an amber glow. He reached into his coat pocket and took out a crumpled piece of paper; the leaf from the Yellow Pages was limp in his palm from the moisture. Amazing these things are still around, Eddy thought. You’d think the Internet would’ve made them obsolete. One name was circled on the page: Elizabeth Megalos. He looked at the address next to the name and then looked at the numbers on the front of the house. This must be the place.
Eddy took a quick glance around the neighborhood. The houses were all modest centennial homes, and sodium lamps cast a sickly glow on the street. He didn’t notice anyone inside the nearby windows; the street was empty. No looky-loos. He inched along an alleyway between the house and the home to its left. A window on the side leaked light; underneath rested a wooden crate and some old cardboard boxes. Eddy moved toward the crate and then pressed down firmly on the top. Seems sturdy enough. He climbed up and peeked through the window blinds.
Eddy heard a crash come from behind him. He peered over his shoulder and saw some trash cans lying on their side. A tabby cat crawled out from the nearest can, coffee grounds clinging to its brow. He looked back into the window and saw the woman glaring out. Eddy hoped off the crate and moved into the darkness of the alleyway. Shit. As he sat there waiting n the shadows, he whispered an Aramaic phrase while clasping his hands over his face. He heard a door open and saw the woman walking towards the alley. In her hands was a large wooden bat.
“Hello?” she called. “Is there someone there?” The alleyway was silent. “If there’s a some creep hiding in the alley, I want you to know that I had a .380 batting average on my college softball team.”
She inched her way towards the alley wither her bat raised then nudged the crate with her bat. The cat slinked forward and let out a tiny meow. Elizabeth leaned down and petted the cat along the length of its back. “Were you the one making all of that noise, kitty?”
She gave another look around and returned to the front of her house. Eddy heard the door shut, waited a few minutes to be sure, and crept out of the shadows. He reached down and picked up the cat, brushing coffee grounds from his head.
“That sure was close,” he whispered.
Eddy looked up at the sky. It had been cloudy for most of the night, but a small patch had recently opened in the heavens. The moon beamed, nearly full. A faint moan came from the alleyway and he knew it wasn’t a cat.
“It’s almost time,” Eddy said under his breath. “Tomorrow’s the full moon.”
Synopsis (From Goodreads)-
It’s the summer of 2012 and Elizabeth Megalos is a disillusioned art-school grad getting by as a bank teller in St. Louis. One evening, she’s attacked by a possessed coworker and saved by a mysterious, wise-cracking sorcerer named Eddy. He drags Elizabeth and Hugh—a skeptical scholar of the occult—to Europe, where he introduces them to his three magical celebrity friends. Once there, Eddy explains the group’s mission: preventing a Demiurge—a creature out of Gnostic Christian mythology—from fulfilling the visions of doom in the Book of Revelation. The Demiurge has been drawing power from the misguided beliefs in the Mayan apocalypse and is set to start the destruction on Dec. 21st, 2012. Through ritual magic and a series of psychedelic experiences, the group learns that Elizabeth is the key to taking down the Demiurge, though she can’t imagine how she will be the one to stop Armageddon.
Wild, Dark Times is a novel about the chillest end of the world apocalypse you’ll ever read. Following ordinary, unmagical Elizabeth as she is whisked all over the world by a witty, flirty, new age wizard, they attempt to decipher visions and clues to stop the end of times from bringing the book of Revelations to life.
Elizabeth is a key to their plans going right, as well as a PhD post-grad Hugh, the sceptic of the group, who studies the occult but doesn’t believe a word of their magical nonsense. The magical group consists of Eddy, the leader, Frager and Veer, the musicians who enable their international travel to coincide with their world wind concert tour, and Albert, a comic book artist. Occasionally fighting off demons and evil spirits intent on stopping them with random incantations and long forgotten languages, the group holes themselves up in various apartments and hotel rooms getting high and discussing art and philosophy that at times can be dense but for the most part works well for the personalities of the characters.
Despite the impending doom that’s barreling towards them, the group is relaxed and chilled out most of the time. There are a few unfortunate deaths in the book but not a moment to mourn before the story plunges forward to more rituals and artistic musings.
The book is enjoyable, funny, and a perfect read on a trip to Amsterdam perhaps, however the ending is not the apocalyptic climax that I expected. The ‘bad guy’ of this book is only briefly thrown in to keep the reader interested and while the end boss battle is gruesome in a lot of ways, it ends rather abruptly. In saying that though, it’s not an unsatisfactory conclusion.
Wild, Dark Times is a story about enjoying life while you have it, discovering your own magic and really loving what you love. A huge theme in the conversations the characters have is to appreciate the art of others, even if it isn’t your favourite thing, never to put other people down for the things they love or how they love them – and that’s something I can get behind. Would recommend for a fun, and interesting occult read.
About the Author –
Austin Case received a Master’s Degree from the University of Amsterdam in Western Esotericism and Mysticism. His academic knowledge of the occult and other peripheral phenomena has given him a unique take on fantasy and other speculative fiction. You can find him on Twitter here and via his Goodreads page here.
Links to Buy and Review –
What’s your favourite occult novel? Do apocalyptic novels always have to be serious, or is there room for humour? Let me know down below!