Ask the Dark
by Henry Turner
April 7, 2015
Billy Zeets has a story to tell.
About being a vandal and petty thief.
About missing boys and an elusive killer.
And about what happens if a boy who breaks all the rules is the only person who can piece together the truth.
Gripping and powerful, this masterful debut novel comes to vivid life through the unique voice of a hero as unlikely as he is unforgettable.
I picked this up because the blurb was pretty gripping. You know from the first chapter that Billy is going to survive, and I was glad to know it as there are some really intense, hard moments for this young guy to survive. I'm putting a trigger warning here. While we don't see the rapes of several young men, it is alluded to. There is also a lot of swearing, and while Billy tends to apologize for it, the words are still there. This is rated YA, and I'm sure most teens have read these words before, but do be aware.
This book is written as if Billy is telling us the story in the here and now, with grammar errors, odd phrasing, and rather weird spellings. It took me a long time to get into the flow of the story because of this. I thought about putting it down many times, then would tell myself to just finish it. Finally did, mainly because I needed to find out how Billy put all the clues together.
Because that's what he did. Billy is out and about in the town a lot. He's got his eyes open, mostly because there are a few other kids that have it out for him, and want to beat him up. Billy hadn't been a good boy all that long. He used to just do "stuff" for the heck of it. And people called him on it. A promise to his dying mom and issues with his dad made him try to toe the line. It was a hard line for him, too. When boys start disappearing, he starts putting the clues together about the missing boys.
I rooted for Billy. And I worried about him. Still wanted to take my editor's pen to his words. I think the "style" here took away some of the tension of the tale. But I still wanted to see him become a hero, and he did, even when it was hard for him. The story unfolds over the course of months, and sometimes it felt like the author was just moving time along.
An interesting debut novel for the author. Will be interested to see what he comes up with next.
Thank you, Clarion Books and NetGalley, for the opportunity to read this book.
Henry Turner grew up in Baltimore Maryland, in Roland Park, an old neighborhood heralded, on a historical plaque outside its local shopping center, “The oldest planned Garden Suburb in the United States”. He went to public schools. He was always interested in storytelling in one form or another, and as a teenager he started making films with his brother and neighborhood kids.
Henry wound up making five feature films, writing and shooting and cutting them. When his films won awards and attracted some attention he moved to Los Angeles, after getting a call from a movie production company that was looking for scripts. He stayed in L.A. and helped build a fledgling film festival that has since become well-established. He also wrote much freelance entertainment journalism, interviewing well-known filmmakers such as George Lucas, Brian Grazer, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, and many others. All along he was writing stories.
During a year spent in Greece he made a total commitment to writing fiction. Returning to Los Angeles, he met his future wife, who encouraged him to study fiction writing with a novelist he admired – John Rechy. Henry stayed in Rechy’s private writing group for a number of years and also studied privately with Hubert Selby. Since that time he and his wife have had a son, Hugo, who is now nine. Henry Turner is now writing a new novel.
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