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April 23, 2012 / John Sheridan

Review: Edge of Dark Water by Joe Lansdale


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Sometimes you get the feeling that maybe you haven’t read a bad book but more like the wrong book. I guess that’s why there are so many sub-sub-sub genres going around these days. Well that was the sort of feeling I was left with after reading Edge of Dark Water. Hugely positive blurbs that referenced Mark Twain and Stephen King but it just sort of left me cold and not the kind of cold that Stephen King at his best could induce and in that way it reminded me a little of Michael Koryta’s So Cold The River – another book that would supposedly frighten you but ultimately did nothing of the sort and the frightening parts just left you underwhelmed.

Let’s talk about Edge of Dark Water some more before I veer off into completely unrelated territory. The Mark Twain comparisons I can understand based on the setting of both time and place and both are well depicted even if they didn’t particularly appeal to me – note to self, stick to cops and PI’s! The story is narrated by Sue-Ellen who along with her friends and mother have ventured along the river on a raft to escape her abusive father and to fulfil the wish of another friend, now dead, to go to California, specifically Hollywood. Unfortunately for them having “liberated” some cash along the way they are being pursued by more than just her father. Their central cause of concern is Skunk, a semi-mythical person that no one is sure whether he exists or not as each tale is more outlandish than the next. This is probably my biggest problem with the book as Skunk should strike fear into your heart but failed to elicit any meaningful reaction on my part so I ended up just not caring whether the band of friends lived, died or just suffered incredibly at his hands. My favourite character would have to be Jinx who at least had some spunk about her and seems to get all the best lines.

I pondered whether I should assign a rating at all given that as I said at the beginning I felt I had made a poor choice but ultimately decided I should and have gone with 3 out of 5.

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