Greg F. Gifune
JournalStone Publishing (July 13, 2018)
Reviewed by Andrew Byers
Originally published in 2006 as the second novel after Greg F. Gifune’s powerful debut The Bleeding Season, Deep Night was re-released by JournalStone in 2018. It is as chilling and unsettling as The Bleeding Season, a highwater mark indeed. In Deep Night, the tale begins innocuously enough with a group of old friends vacationing in the remote woods of northern Maine. However, what unfolds is far from the idyllic getaway they envisioned. A chance encounter with a blood-stained woman introduces an ancient and malevolent presence, setting in motion a series of events that will irrevocably alter the course of their lives. The narrative seamlessly shifts between the initial time at the cabin and the haunting aftermath, a year later, where the characters grapple with their fragmented memories and an unrelenting evil that refuses to be forgotten.
Gifune’s narrative prowess is on full display as he navigates the temporal intricacies of the plot. The alternating timelines heighten suspense and allow readers to piece together the puzzle of that fateful night alongside the characters. This nuanced approach to storytelling elevates Deep Night beyond mere horror conventions, transforming it into a profound exploration of memory, trauma, and the unreliability of perception.
The characters, particularly Seth Roman and his brother Raymond, are intricately woven into the fabric of the narrative. Gifune deftly explores their vulnerabilities, fears, and the complex dynamics that bind them. Raymond’s childhood night terrors, an enigma that becomes a linchpin in the unfolding horror, add a layer of psychological depth to the narrative. As the characters grapple with their fragmented recollections, the line between reality and nightmare blurs, intensifying the narrative’s psychological impact.
The novel’s atmosphere is an entity unto itself, a palpable force that permeates every page. The desolate woods become a character in their own right, shrouded in an eerie silence that amplifies the sense of isolation and impending doom. Gifune’s evocative prose brings the chilling setting to life, immersing readers in an otherworldly realm where malevolence lurks in the shadows.
Pacing, a crucial element in any horror narrative, is meticulously handled in Deep Night. Gifune masterfully controls the ebb and flow of tension, allowing suspense to mount organically. The gradual escalation of fear mirrors the characters’ descent into an abyss of terror, creating an immersive experience that captivates readers without resorting to gratuitous shocks.
As the narrative hurtles toward its climax, the boundaries between the corporeal and the supernatural blur, and the characters find themselves ensnared in a malevolent force that defies comprehension. Deep Night becomes an exploration of the human soul, a harrowing journey into the darkest recesses of existence, where the quest for survival is intricately entwined with sacrificial love and unwavering faith.
Deep Night transcends the conventional tropes of horror, offering readers a nuanced and thought-provoking exploration of fear, memory, and the human spirit. This is not merely a tale of supernatural horror but a profound narrative that lingers, inviting readers to confront the shadows that lurk within the depths of their own psyches. For those seeking a horror experience that resonates on a psychological level, Deep Night is a haunting odyssey into the heart of darkness. Definitely recommended.
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