By Monique Snyman
Published May 17, 2022
“Too often people mistake monsters for gods.”
Esme Snyder is an occult crime expert conjured to investigate the latest spree of killings within the South African city of Pretoria. Spiralling deeper and deeper within the abyss of a cat and mouse game with the macabre slayer, she beckons the assistance not only from her jaded partner but an eccentric millionaire, a priest, and a forensic criminologist. Will the team of unlikely allies be enough to thwart the growing evil spawned from the dark arts, or will Esme succumb once and for all unto The Dark Country?
A considerable degree of fanfare had been unleashed prior to cracking the spine and delving on into the works of one Monique Snyman. While reading an author without prior exposure, certain resistances and preconceived notions are prevalent and skepticism rears its ugly head. Allow me to be the first to go on record and say faithful readers, believe the hype; believe every last word.
Author Monique Snyman deploys an intriguing use of alternating first and third person points of view throughout her prose. Varying from an interpersonal narrative to news reports, case files and social media news feeds, Dark Country provides a certain esthetic feel to lure the audience instantaneously and keep us captivated, with ruthless aggression. Suffice to say, one who picks up Dark Country will be enslaved to the reading rapture through and through.
Esme is a young, attractive woman with a bizarre occupation. Being an occult crime expert, certainly cements her elements of fascination. However, her sexual prowess undeniably raises the thermometer. The sub-plot of her love life provides a necessary component in accentuating the tale. As primal creatures we get a taste of wanting the goods, the proverbial dirty as it were. Few can deny that fear is an ultimate aphrodisiac and Dark Country delivers from cover to cover.
The rising tension between Esme and Howlen is worth the price of admission alone. A persistent “will they”, “won’t they” grinds on the reading audiences’ vicarious longing. Snyman has a flare for creating a dynamic the makes the readers beg for more and more.
Snyman harnesses a riveting use of the occult and thereby an occupation. Along with fear being an aphrodisiac, to built upon that concept, fear of the unknown is arguably the most powerful and creates a broad landscape unto the imagination. The works within inspire the creepiest of after thoughts. I can think of few authors that would not engage deep in pride to know their brainchild is being coddled long after conclusion.
A setting within South Africa, particularly Pretoria provides a welcome escape for a western audience, and in all audience global wide. Not exclusive to cultural enthusiasts, Dark Country provides a vicarious escape for a vast reading audience to learn of a unique civilization. A certain subtle nuance of feeding fear of the unknown is eclipsed in an almost subconscious fashion.
Snyman’s prose is infectious from page one. The tell-tale sign of an effective storyteller is when a reader is so enthralled, he or she doesn’t even realize they’re reading a story. We get swept away within the words. Perhaps more than a few readers will be prompted to sleep with the bedroom lights on for just a night or two.
Perhaps what is most noteworthy is the elusive presence of the serial killer. The author seems to firmly grasp just how effective the elements of less is more. Often our fears manifest what the evil is capable of. It is often what is read between the lines that is the true horror. Snyman takes the reading audience along a psychological winding path, knowing full well, as reluctant as we are, we’ll follow each step of the way.
An onslaught and plethora of awards have brandished Monique Snyman’s mantel including Silver Medal Winner in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, a Bram Stoker nominee for superior achievement in a Young Adult Novel category, among numerous others. The feedback is unanimous the word of Monique Snyman is here to stay.