The Black Lord Review
Special thanks to Tenebrous Press for the ARC copy they provided.
The Black Lord is a unique experience, one that grips a reader hard, right from the beginning, and will not let go. I’m a fan of childhood horrors that prove real, and The Black Lord is a take on this troupe I didn’t fully anticipate.
The unexpected plays out first in the structure of the book. The Black Lord only boasts a handful of chapters, but each is from a different point of view. Every character has their moment narrating the story, and this alternating structure paints a twisting picture of the book readers would not otherwise be privy to.
The book rightly starts from the perspective of Eddie, the youngest of the Sutners. Eddie highlights the base, innate fear of the monster coming out of the shadows and into the light of our everyday world. It’s appropriately horrifying, and drags the reader, unresisting, into the narrative.
From Eddie’s point of view, The Black Lord moves on to the perspectives of his parents, grandmother, and the monster itself. Each stop on this trail of exploration is a new splinter of the story the reader gets to examine and interact with, and these fragments are by turns terrifying, hopeful, and sad. Colin Hinckley weaves the language of this book so skillfully, in one short passage, the monster becomes someone the reader can identify with and pity.
And that is only part of this interesting tale.
There is also The Black Lord, the entity that is equal parts inscrutable and alien. Despite being the namesake of the book, The Black Lord is not the monster. The reader can even argue that The Black Lord is neither for nor against the monster and the chaos that spawned it. The Black Lord simply IS. It exists and oversees, and it too has its time narrating the story.
This is something I particularly like with The Black Lord. Non-human narrators are a favorite of mine, and seeing the shift from the human, to the monster, to the unknown and unknowable being, made my day as I read this book.
The Black Lord does something else very well. It ends abruptly on a note that leaves the reader grasping for more, reaching for deeper understandings they won’t receive. It is exactly the right feeling for this book.
Childhood horrors often don’t have explanations, and they leave us only with the fading knowledge that the events happened. Perhaps we tuck those memories away and only pull them out and shake them off like old, unused tablecloths, as we think, “This happened, but I don’t understand it. I don’t know how or why, and I don’t want to think about it.”
If a person comes in contact with something not of our reality, it isn’t likely they get all the answers. The Black Lord leaves the reader with precisely the emotion a person in the Sutners’ position would feel. An abrupt drop back into reality, knowing they’ve lost something and they’ll never get it back, and they’ll never be able to explain to anyone else how or why it happened.
There isn’t even the full assurance they are safe.
For the moment, the monster is gone, but the chaos behind it is not thwarted. Temporary reprieve seems to be the only thing won.
And that too, is exactly how it should be. In reality, there is no surety. The Black Lord effortlessly gives the reader that realistic sensation, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The Black Lord is a quick and wonderful read that will give you the right amount of chills.