By Patrick D’Orazio
Into the Dark is Book 2 in author Patrick D’Orazio’s Dark trilogy. It picks up exactly were the terrific first installment ends on a cliff hanger note asserting itself as a worthy sequel right away. The main character, Jeff Blaine, and his small rag tag band of survivors (including a woman from Jeff’s former suburban neighborhood, a man driven by the need to return to his family his hasn’t seen since the zombies rose weeks before, and a sullen teenager) run from one intense situation to the next, avoiding both the undead and paranoid rifle packing humans, to end up ambushed by men carrying automatic weapons. The men force our band onto their stomachs, ransack their van, and steal their weapons.
Jeff, Megan, George, and Jason are herded to a circle of RVs that house a small camp of survivors. We met the leader of the camp Michael and his semi-deranged girlfriend, Cindy, and his duo of red neck cronies, Marcus and Frank before meeting the rest of the camp. Once within the rather safe confines of the RV circle we meet Ben (a giant of a man that appears to be muscle for Michael), Lydia (an older lay that plays mother to three children in the encampment), and Teddy and Ray (two nervous and excitable teenage boys).
Once introductions are made the story picks back up with the same human feel to it as the first in the series (Comes the Dark). In Comes the Dark D’Orazio developed the four main characters and he rises to the challenge of adding a fresh host of new characters. The action does slow down as we learn, little by precious little, more about the survivors. Each character is given time to develop as the action increases. Where as in the first installment the main characters are fleeing from undead crowded streets to even more undead crowded streets in an attempt at achieving safety here nearly the entire story takes place within the safety of the RV camp.
With the introduction of Michael and his cronies the story has a cast of human antagonists that clash with Jeff and his band of survivors. While Cindy, Frank, and Marcus are easy to view as psychopaths tearing out a niche in the world consumed by the dead the character of Michael is cut from a different cloth. He commands respect and uses any means to achieve his goals but under his semi-maniacal leadership style we see shades of a human worried about those he has sworn to protect. Like the first novel, Into the Dark packs as much emotion as it does action; though this time we see more than anger and sadness as pride and desperation both raise their ugly heads and put Jeff’s groups against Michael and his. Loyalties and friendships are tested as everyone adjusts to the camp-bringing more human drama into the story. The undead remain constant threats but none of the characters are simple zombie chow.
I enjoyed Into the Dark and think it plays well as a middle part of a trilogy. I do think it reads best with the thicker meatier Comes the Dark (and most likely better still with the forth coming third installment, Beyond the Dark). Overall, through great character development and the ability to build an intensifying tension right up to the last cliff hanging page, Mr. D’Orazio gives us an excellent second installment of his trilogy with Into the Dark. I for one can’t wait for Beyond the Dark.