Sunday, April 11, 2010

In the Darkness There is Danger

The latest box of books to review from Authorlink came on Friday and I decided to dive in with Ted Dekker's latest thriller The Bride Collector. It was a bad choice for bedtime reading, which is my favorite place to read and my favorite form of sleep aid. Can't sleep? Read. Works every time, not because the books are boring but because they relax and transport me to a place where my body, a usually tensed wirespring of emotions held in check and muscles cramped from over or under use, can let go and float on a puffy cloud of alternate realities and wondrous prose. Not last night.

I knew from the cover, a bas relief picture of a bridal veil hanging from a rusted, bloody, oft-used meat hook, and the title that it was a thriller, but I usually don't have problems sleeping after reading books with graphic violence or horrific scenes. Every one in a while . . . This was one of those once in a while times.

Eyes drooping from fatigue (I haven't been sleeping through the night, harking back to some newborn state I avoided the first time around, probably emotional or mental colic), I bookmarked my page, stacked the book on top of the others and turned out the light, composing my heavy limbs for sleep. It didn't take long for Morpheus to gather me in his arms and whisper sleeping thoughts in my ear before I was yanked out of the bliss and into a world of darkness and terror where I was hunted by a family of throwbacks intent on playing Operation with my not so vital parts until they could dig out the vital parts with a rusty, bent spoon.

The leader of this homicidal group had his smirking, eager brothers hold me while he prodded between spine and right kidney with a thin lead rod, increasing the pressure until I writhing in their grip, biting my lip to keep from screaming in terror and pain. How I got away I don't know, but get away I did, running up a flight of stairs that appeared out of nowhere with the happy howling hounds on my trail. At the top of the stairs were two shovels, one point and the other flat-bladed, and I turned, grabbed the pointed shovel and stood my ground ready to swing at the first head within reach, except the shovels were chained to each other and to the banister. It was a trick and a trap. I started to run and catapulted out of the nightmare into drowsy wakefulness unable to free myself from the grip of the nightmare or wake fully. The struggle continued with the hounds hot on my heels, having grabbed my dream state to reel me back in and back in I went, fighting for consciousness and being dragged back inch by inexorable inch until finally I broke free, still sleep heavy, and tried to change the dream until at last I was saved by a full bladder near to bursting. It's the first time I was glad for nature's call.

That wasn't in the book and I hadn't finished the second chapter.

Dekker's writing is so visceral and evocative and the killer so insidiously dark that it set my mind to creating a nightmare all its own. I've decided that under no circumstances will I ever read a Ted Dekker thriller that close to bedtime, nor will I read him in bed unless there's plenty of daylight. Nope, reading Dekker will be cut off a minimum of six hours before bed while there's still plenty of light and a chance to purge his prose with frothy musicals, tear jerking romances and plenty of time to get it all out into my paper journals. His writing is far to suggestive to my overactive and very creative mind.

The last Dekker book I read and reviewed, which was also my first, was Green, the last and the first in a cycle of four. Once I started reading the book I was drawn into the story and quickly immersed. I resented needing to sleep; I wanted to finish it all in one sitting. That didn't happen, but the world and the ideas on which I gorged myself were a banquet for the senses and I enjoyed every moment, returning to read as soon as I finished work. Luckily, I work at home, so it was a short commute. I curled up in bed and flew away to the worlds of Dekker's imaginings and in spite of the religious themes, which were seamlessly woven into the overall narrative. This book, The Bride Collector, is a different Dekker than the one that fascinated me before. This Dekker knows the deepest darkness of the human soul wherein lies the joy and the insatiable need to warp the very fabric of reality and refashion it in its own image. This Dekker weaves nightmares and taps the instinctive and deep-seated fears in all of us, and especially, obviously, in me.

I highly recommend Ted Dekker's books. I must finish The Bride Collector in order to review it -- two chapters is not enough -- but I will read it in the daylight where nightmares can't drag me back into the abyss. Then I'll get Boneman's Daughters and read that in daylight, too, but I will read it. I suggest you do the same. Make sure it's daylight and keep your loved ones close; don't go to bed alone and, under no circumstances, read Dekker's thrillers in bed.

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