Back at the end of 2015 when all of us were making our favorite reads and best of lists, I noticed that a lot of books were recurring across literally dozens of lists. But there was one book that I only found on one list, don’t ask me which one because I don’t remember. Now that I’ve read that book, I’m actually kind of surprised that ALL THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD (henceforth ATDITW) wasn’t one of those recurring titles. If I had read it in 2015 it most certainly would have been on my list, and there’s a damn good possibility it will go on this year’s list of favorites.
When I first saw this book mentioned–on that fabled list I can’t remember–my first response was, “Who the fuck is Andy Deane?” But after I read the synopsis of the book I was immediately intrigued. I love a good, well told vampire story and this sounded like the real deal to me. And the sample on Amazon did nothing to disabuse me of that opinion. So I went begging at Raw Dog Screaming Press’s kitchen door and they were kind enough to provide me with some review copies of a few of their books, one of those being ATDITW.
At it’s heart, ATDITW is a vampire story, brutal, bloody, and terrifying. But there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s an outstanding coming of age story, laced with some minor romance, a hefty helping of Southern charm, hilarious, often giddy humor at times, a story about the struggles and triumphs of Jace, a teenage boy that we follow as he grows into manhood against all odds. The thing that really captured me about this book, that kept me from putting it down is Deane’s incredible prowess as a storyteller. The voice of Jace is captivating, entertaining, and delightfully irreverent, evoking memories of Laymon’s NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER in mood and tone while at the same time being it’s own thing:
“If you’d known my parents you’d probably be surprised to find out I’m not a serial killer. I’m not claiming I turned out to be the second coming or anything, but I do okay by the folks I care about, and try to treat strangers with as much respect as they deserve.”
Andy Deane knows his way around a story, and he approaches it as an art form, telling his story without tedium or drudgery, giving us a tour of a world both terrifying and wonderful in it’s evocation. You can tell that he was fully invested in the writing of the tale and, because of that, his reader is too. And the main reason for that is his ridiculously lovable, affable smartass of a protagonist and narrator, Jace:
“My day was going much better than expected. I’d had the fortune of not seeing Ted Pines in History. Apparently he called in sick, hopefully with cancer.”
And talking about Jace brings me to another point. I seem to be at odds with several other reviewers when it comes to character development. I think, for the purpose of this story, Deane did a masterful job of building his protagonist, fleshing him out and making me not just care, but dig the hell out of him, while the rest of the characters were, for the most part, pretty flat. But I don’t think that does a thing to detract from the story and is, I suspect, quite intentional. The other characters are fodder in Jace’s story, designed like everything else, to drive the narrative forward. Taking the time to develop entire backstories for all of them would have resulted in a massively bloated volume in which the story would probably have been all but lost. It was sufficient for me that if Jace cared about another character, I did also, and if he hated them, the same thing.
Reading ATDITW, it felt like I was sitting there listening to Andy Deane tell the story. His voice is natural and engaging and the story is never slow or boring. Once it gets going, on page one, it never lets up, racing toward a very satisfying and viciously brutal climax at a break neck pace. I dug the hell out of this story and I hope to see more of Deane’s work in the future. If you like a read that is violent, gory, and ridiculously fun, you’ll love ALL THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD. Follow those links below and get a copy for yourself.
ALL THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD synopsis:
High school is hard for many but Jace has more than his fair share of troubles. It’s bad enough that his parents’ fights have become explosive and he’s the target of a bully at
school but all that pales when he happens on the scene of a brutal back alley crime. Though he survives this terrifying encounter he’s left wondering and unsure about exactly what happened.
Years go by and Jace has built a simple life for himself. Finally free of his family he’s beginning to really live when a dark shadow returns to torment him. He didn’t back down from his father or the bully so he’s not going to back down now but it will take every ounce of his irreverent attitude and a healthy dose of luck to survive this time. He’s about to learn that vampires do exist and there’s nothing romantic about them.
About Andy Deane: Andy’s stories have a unique southern voice with a splash of dark humor thrown in the mix. He has been writing stories and songs from the time he realized he could do either, and scored his first publishing deal without the help of an agent after several long, frustrating hours perusing the “how to get an agent” books at his local bookstore.
Much of his first novel (THE STICKS, Delirium Books, 2009) was written while passing long miles between gigs on the road with his band Bella Morte. Since finishing THE STICKS Andy has completed a novella (THE THIRD HOUSE, Thunderstorm Books, 2010), a novel (ALL THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD, Thunderstorm Books, 2011), and a second novella titled NO TURNING BACK (DarkFuse, 2012).
Andy is the frontman and lyricist for the internationally renowned gothic rock band Bella Morte. They have released two EPs and seven full-length albums (the most recent being BEFORE THE FLOOD, Metropolis Records, 2011) over the past decade and have toured extensively throughout the US and Europe during that time. Andy has also released albums as Brighter Fires and The Rain Within.
Andy lives in Charlottesville, Virginia where he was born, and figures he’ll be buried there someday.
Find Andy at – www.BellaMorte.com