Thrill Week II Review: After the Darkness by Honey Brown

Title: After The Darkness

Author: Honey Brown

Published: Viking  August 2012

Synopsis: Trudy and Bruce Harrison have a happy marriage, a successful business, and three teenage children. One fateful day they take the winding coastal route home, and visit the Ocean View Gallery, perched on the cliff edge. It’s not listed in any tourist pamphlet. The artist runs the gallery alone. There are no other visitors. Within the maze of rooms the lone couple begin to feel uneasy – and with good reason.  Trudy and Bruce will be ripped from the safe, secure fabric of their life and will have their world turned upside down and shaken. Attacked, trapped and brutalised, they barely escape the gallery with their lives – only to find there’s no real getting away

Status: Read on September 06, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Penguin Australia}

My Thoughts:

I’d been wanting to read After The Darkness for months and Thrill Week finally provided the perfect opportunity. I picked it up to read a few chapters before bedtime and found myself, at 3am, turning the final page.

In After the Darkness, Trudy and Bruce Harrison are on their way home after a relaxing week away when a sign for the Ocean View Gallery captures their attention. Stepping inside the unusual building they are confronted by a maze of rooms and disquieting sculptures of glass, wood and stone. They dismiss their feelings of unease, admiring the breathtaking vista of the ocean, and accept the gallery owner’s offer of coffee. Just minutes later, Bruce is unconscious and as Trudy fights to rouse her husband she is blinded with chemical spray and then bound. Disorientated and terrified the couple are at the mercy of their sadistic captor but with strength born from abject fear they manage to kill the man and escape. In shock, Bruce and Trudy return home, collect their children and try to piece their lives back together but they are haunted by those few hours in the house on the hill and their once charmed lives begin to spiral out of control.

The opening chapters of After the Darkness are gripping. Lulled into complacency by the pleasure of a leisurely drive along The Great Ocean Road and the normality of browsing an art gallery on a warm, sunny day the terror Bruce and Trudy encounter is a sharp, shocking contrast. The first person point of view includes the reader in the journey, I know my own heart began to race as the the drug began to take effect and Trudy’s confusion turned to desperate panic. Brown captures the psychological horror of being powerless, facing seemingly certain torture and death at the hands of a mad man. I breathed a sigh of relief at their escape but as the title suggests, it is what comes after that is the focus of this novel.

“I think a part of me knew even then we weren’t leaving, not really. Some things you don’t escape from.”p50

As their bruises ripen and the immediate shock fades the horror does not recede as they hoped and the Harrisons’ struggle with the facade of ordinary life. Reaching out to the police results in their claims being summarily dismissed. That leaves the Harrison’s with few options and Brown allows us to witness the couple’s slow disintegration from post traumatic stress. Both of them operate in a kind of fog, going through the motions but crippled by flashbacks and paranoia. They make poor decisions that exacerbate their feelings of loss of control. Trudy is led astray by a new tenant in one of their properties, Bruce thinks only of making someone pay. Normality blurs – truth and lies, right and wrong, everything tainted by frustrated fear and anger until Trudy and Bruce spiral into the darkness they so desperately tries to escape. This novel reveals it is not enough to just survive a terrible event, it must be overcome.

It should be noted that in an unusual move it is Bruce, not Trudy, who is the target of their sexually predatory captor, allowing Brown to explore a type of victimology rarely featured in fiction. It is Bruce’s shame that drives his reaction to the incident, a desperate need to deny what had happened to him coupled with the eventual need to reassert his masculinity with aggression and control. It is his shame that ensures Trudy’s silence and her guilt at escaping the worst of the abuse in the gallery.

Once begun, I couldn’t put After The Darkness down, caught up in the story of the Harrison’s inexorable slide towards destruction. The pacing is compelling, the creeping tension superb and the journey unpredictable. After the Darkness is a stunning psychological thriller that examines the stain on the soul true terror leaves behind.

Available to Purchase

@Penguin Australia I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @Amazon Kindle

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Danielle
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 15:01:08

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!

    Have you read Honey Brown’s other books? “The Good Daughter” and “Red Queen” are equally amazing.

    So glad you liked this one :) stellar review!

    Like

    Reply

  2. Teddyree
    Sep 09, 2012 @ 17:17:04

    Fantastic review, made me want to pick it up straight away. I love psychological thrillers and the victimology in this one isn’t typical so that got my attention.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Tea Time with Marce
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 00:56:11

    Holy smokes, I can see how you got wrapped up and had to read to the end, definitely adding to Wishlist, great review.

    Like

    Reply

  4. Tea Time with Marce
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 02:31:59

    Hmmm, I atually can’t find this book on Amazon or LibraryThing???? Book Depository is sold out.

    Like

    Reply

  5. Denise Imwold
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 11:32:35

    It sounds compelling!

    Like

    Reply

  6. Trackback: Review: Dark Horse by Honey Brown | book'd out

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