Book Review: An Other Place by Darren Dash

“The story was full of some very weird and unique ideas and Dash handles the world-building in a competent manner.”

Although he may be better known as Darren Shan, author of many horror novels in the YA field, such as the ‘Cirque Du Freak’ series and ‘Zom-B’ series as well as numerous standalone novels, Darren O’Shaugnessy has also written three horror novels for a more mature audience under the pseudonym Darren Dash. The latest, An Other Place, was released in October 2016.

The story begins in Amsterdam as the protagonist, an IT trouble-shooter by the name of Newman Riplan, has an impromptu “meeting” with a prostitute and we are left with no illusions as to the tone of the story. This is not a YA novel. To bring home the point Newman meets up with two old friends to enjoy an evening of debauchery with more prostitutes fuelled by alcohol and drugs. But an evening becomes a night and before we know it the party has continued until morning when, tired of listening to Newman complaining of working too hard, his friends bundle him onto a flight to destination unknown.

For an author who predominately writes fiction for a younger audience, Dash handles the adult elements with ease. He does a good job of writing the three friends as hedonistic and selfish playboys, only interested in fulfilling their own desires and having no regard for others. If the book has a theme, then this would be it; the comparison between Newman’s self-worth and how he sees the world around him. This leads Newman on a journey of self-discovery, but he won’t be doing it in any country he is familiar with.

The destination of his flight was to be somewhere he could relax and recharge his batteries. But following a close call with a peanut on board, he finds himself in a very strange land when the plane touches down and he is the only human on board, the other passengers and crew now turned into mindless drones. Newman has found himself in a bizarre city where the citizens rely on these drones for sustenance, as well as cheap labour. But this is only the tip of the iceberg with regards the weirdness of the unnamed city. To list everything would be to spoil the story for potential readers. But Dash offers some very strange, very unique ideas here.

However, there are moments where Newman, while trying to find a way to return to his old life, took an unexpected path and found himself distracted, such as when he decided to walk to the edge of the town, only to be disappointed after many pages of wandering. There were other instances where Newman would become distracted from his ultimate goal, only to become despondent in his various attempts. This leads to the darkest scene in the book, where Newman violates the most sacred law of the city and its elusive ruler, The Alchemist, leading to a disastrous conclusion for the citizens.

Despite sometimes giving the impression that it wasn’t sure where to go, the story was full of some very weird and unique ideas and Dash handles the world-building in a competent manner. The development of characters, especially Newman, was well done, and the descriptions were vivid. Dash is a skilled and proficient writer.

THOMAS JOYCE

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
eBook: (310 pp)
Release Date: 19 October 2016

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