Dark Seed by Simon West-Bulford
Medallion Press, 2016
Available: Kindle edition
Simon West-Bulford has written an intriguing, historical, Gothic tale of an ancient evil that threatens to engulf the world through the foibles of humans. The story is told through the journals of a British archaeologist, Lord Edward Cephas Hargraven (1891), and a teacher, Dr. Alexander Drenn (1923).
We learn that despite ominous warnings from a colleague, Hargraven brought a relic back from a dig in South America. Years later, Hargraven disappears, and Drenn awakens one night during an earthquake and finds his village enveloped in darkness and fog. Villagers are missing, or were grotesquely slain by monsters. Drenn and four villagers– a chaplain, an actress, a housekeeper and a strongman– are trapped in Hargraven’s manor. Someone, or something, is gruesomely murdering them, one by one, as in an Agatha Christie mystery.
What evil did Hargraven bring to the village? Is it a catastrophic product of Darwinian evolution? Can Drenn and his companions stop it from destroying England and the world, village by village, and city by city?
Bulford’s characters have convincing voices appropriate to their era and backgrounds. For example, Drenn writes in his journal, “ I am an educated man, though unremarkable in achievement; my legacy will be appreciated only by those whose make acquaintance of my students; and should any of them speak kindly of their tutor, Dr. Alexander Drenn, then this is satisfaction enough for me.”
The author’s descriptions are vivid and inventive. Drenn witnesses the destruction of his village and watches a demon murder a young girl. He himself kills a crazed, possessed villager. His thoughts are in turmoil while he rests, sleepless in his deserted home. “My mind could not settle. It seethed and swayed and spun through churning seas of events and emotions that vied for attention like the endless tuning of an orchestra denied a performance.”
Dark Seed is an entertaining, chilling read. West-Bulford has written several other novels, novellas and short stories encompassing fantasy, science fiction, mystery and the occult. Recommended.
Contains: graphic violence and gore
Reviewed by Robert D. Yee