Aaron hasn’t been home since his younger brother mysteriously disappeared without a trace from his bedroom fifteen years earlier. He thought he’d moved on with his life.
But when his mother dies suddenly, he finds himself back in his childhood hometown to attend the funeral and see to the estate. Aaron soon finds his hopes of reliving fond childhood memories evaporating as he discovers something in his old closet that shakes not only his beliefs about what happened to his brother, but his grip on reality.
In the hungry darkness, a shadow as old as time itself has been waiting for his return for a long time. And its wait is nearly over…
About the Author
Alan Ryker is the product of a good, clean country upbringing. Though he now lives with his wife in the suburbs of Kansas City, the sun-bleached prairie still haunts his fiction. To learn more about his work, go to www.alanryker.com.
Hot damn! In The Shadows of Children is the first story I've read from author Alan Ryker, but it certainly will not be the last.
This DarkFuse novella finds Aaron returning home following the death of his mother. Fifteen years ago, he'd fled to California and found every excuse he could not to go back. It's been fifteen years since his brother, Bobby, disappeared, and seven years since his father passed away. Now, he's grudgingly picking up the pieces of his old life in the wake of his mother's passing, and starting to recall the horrors of his youth. His adult mind has long since shuttered those old memories, to the point that he can't even really recall what childhood terrors made him leave and never come back. When Bobby appears in their old bedroom closet, still fourteen years old, Aaron begins to remember and, in the process, is threatened with the loss of his son, still at home in California.
I didn't bother reading the book description and went in blind; knowing this was a DarkFuse title was enough for me. At first I thought that Bobby's reappearance was going to make this title a simple, straight-forward ghost story, but Ryker went for richer veins by relying on an ancient, worldwide mythology that still has its foot in the modern door. We call it the boogeyman, and in Ryker's hands it becomes a thing a frightening beauty.
The writing is clean and sharp, and I felt a nice bit of depth in this story. It's a quick, clean bit of horror but nicely layered with questions of psychological pathos and those notions of terror that we either deliberately or inadvertently instill in our children. As adults, we think of the boogeyman as a bit of clean, scary fun, but in the child's mind it can take on a much larger, frightening shape. There's a darkness to it, in the way adults may use that scare to manipulate their children into certain behaviors. Aaron rediscovers this darkness as it begins to intrude on his adult life and put his own family in jeopardy, and it's just so well done. Buy it!