Dawn in Damnation
By Clark Casey
“Welcome to Damnation where every living soul is as dead as a door nail, except one.”
The quotation directly derived from the novella’s opener says it all. Somewhere beyond the parameters of human comprehension lies a realm where the dead go. Not exactly hell, certainly not heaven the inhabitants are left to lurk until their eternal fate has been decided for them.
Dawn in Damnation marks the first reading odyssey I’ve taken with author Clark Casey at the helm. Upon devouring its contents within two sittings I must confess what an exquisite place to begin. The premise of a purgatory like realm for the dead is highly unique and creative. Throw an old western feel with a dash of vampires and werewolves into the mix, you have yourself a highly engaging and entertaining read that will have reading audience of all walks of life rejoicing.
One of my favorite, most noteworthy quotes is: “Why the hell’s God need to use signs? Don’t he speak American?” These are the types of zingers readers can anticipate to be dispatched by the most eclectic mix of characters spawned in recent memory.
As mentioned before there are werewolves and vampires, which at first glimpse may tarnish a stellar reading experience under ordinary circumstances. It seems a little over the top and sensationalized with over indulgent commercialism. Rest assured author Casey knows precisely what he’s doing and the addition of these folklore characters actually accentuate the plot development as opposed to distract from it. Give it an honest try, keep an open mind and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
As characters are introduced on a regular basis and in some cases dispatched, the incidents provide some extraordinary plot development. There’s never a dull moment in Damnation more specifically in the local watering hole referred to as The Foggy Dew. It’s a fine balance of keeping the plot going at a break neck pace but still maintaining enough integrity and relevance as to not over whelm the reading audience.
The stylistic prose in which Clark Casey utilizes is infectious to say the least. A lead protagonist in Tom, the local would be journalist drafts a daily newspaper titled aptly The Crapper, something one reads on the throne. Suffice to say these excerpts provide levity and well timed comedic interlude. Somehow it breaths a certain sense of authenticity into the fray and we get a recap of all the happenstance that has occurred in this quirky realm. The tale shifts from third to first person point of view as told through the eyes of Tom. It keeps the style fresh, the readers’ attention and the tale all the more compelling.
The contrast of exciting characters who provide allure and those we love to hate is indicative the author knows his market well. Ever heightening the empathetic meter, we also can’t wait for a handful of would be sinners to get their just desserts. Casey knows what works and what doesn’t. I could see Dawn in Damnation making a certifiable block buster of film adaptation one day.
Loosely examined as a period piece, the story could in ways be regarded highly be fans of the western genre. With gunslingers, desperados and a whole bevy of genre characters, we feel like we’re submerged deep into the fray of the wild west. One doesn’t have to be strictly a fan of the supernatural nor country to fully see the appeal in Dawn in Damnation.
The novella was crafted in infectious fashion that could easily be enjoyed within 1-2 days and likely revisited time and again. With a sensational blend of comedy, tragedy and grisly death scenes there is truly something for even the most discerning of readers. With a cliff hanger climax, it’s apparent there may be a sequel or even prequel in the works. Rest assured this critic will be among the first in line to awaken once again in the Dawn in Damnation.