After Origin By Dan Brown I Can’t Wait For Robert Langdon #6, because unlike every other installment in the Langdon series, Origin did not sit well.
The payoff was not enough this time.
The character that became a modern-day Sherlock Holmes in Angels and Demons, Robert Langdon, is the linchpin of Dan Brown’s series that surround the professor with symbols, mysteries, murders, and two thrills, of the hunt or quest and the mortal danger held therein, and of the epic knowledge that comes out when the many secrets are revealed at the stories’ end.
I love the works of Dan Brown.
Rarely has education through entertainment been as intriguing, as puzzling, as revelatory as when The Holy Grail is besieged in The Da Vinci Code, or when myriad lives come so close to extinction in Inferno (Dante would have loved it).
And the character of Langdon drives the story in every book in the series, just as Holmes and Watson do in many of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales.
But that comparison reveals the biggest issue I had with Origin: the supporting cast were not even close to on par with Langdon or his previous comrades and nemeses.
Please comment and change my mind here; I love Dan Brown’s work and want to change my mind.
Langdon’s royalty alienating female sidekick takes a backseat early on in the story to an AI.
Let me repeat that for emphasis: an artificial intelligence created by a forty-year-old genius (Musk, meets Jobs, meets Gates, meets Einstein?) who is intriguing but . . .
MAJOR **SPOILER ALERT** to opening chapters to follow.
. . . the character I was most invested in is killed to open the thriller. And an AI steps in to take his place and to largely supplant the female protagonist and the (at that point) clueless professor.
And yes, the book is thrilling, the suspense, the arc of grandiose mystery and conspiracy, they are all there.
The Fibonacci Sequence is also INCREDIBLY interesting!
So, you had me from the cover – I LOVE IT – and then you lost me while Langdon and his dame run from the murder scene for their lives guided by IBM’s Watson.
Maybe it is the decade or more of research into AI and being surrounded by quite a few people at times that are far more knowledgeable of the subject than I, some of them write semi-autonomous code to get robots to behave certain ways, that spoiled this novel for me.
Maybe it was having reread the classic Neuromancer by William Gibson shortly before I picked up Origin that put such a bad taste in my mouth, because the godfather of cyberpunk’s AI in the 1980’s was a lot more convincing and all-around interesting than Brown’s.
AI is mind blowing, in and of itself, and world changing, and it just felt all too happy to me as that luke-warm character became the fulcrum, even over Langdon, for periods of time.
Robert Langdon’s character should not take a backseat to anyone except his Moriarty or his Irene Adler, because Sherlock would be drawn and quartered before he let Lestrade become the focal point of the game.
The writing was as good or better than it has ever been for Brown.
And he has a tall task every time he continues the series: to match or outdo his previous Langdon stories.
But Dan Brown has pulled off the nearly impossible feat four times before! From Angels and Demons and on he did it . . . until now.
I expect a grandiose differentiating installment when or if Robert Langdon graces us in a sixth novel.
“After Origin By Dan Brown I Can’t Wait For Robert Langdon #6” was written by R.J. Huneke
Dark Across The Bay By Ania Ahlborn Coming From Earthling Publications in a S/L edition befitting the thrilling new novel.
The Following TFF Preview Review Will Only Contain **Mild Spoilers** To The Initial Plot Of The Book’s Opening.
Best-selling author Ania Ahlborn takes a fractured family to a secluded vacation home where unnerving and horrific hauntings rattle the reader and the Parrishs alike, and then the stalking begins to slowly unravel everyone’s nerves.
Dark Across The Bay bleeds mysterious hints at insidiousness growing rampant, from the creepy island rental besieging the vulnerable family to the stalkers intruding on them.
Before a marriage can formally dissolve, or Lark and Leo can attempt to move on, everyone is brought to the beach house Airbnb off the coast of Raven’s Head, Maine, 1000 miles from their family home, for a weekend retreat.
The island has only the one house and only one way on or off its shores: by boat.
The expansive residence contains wonderful window views out onto foggy waters, but it seems to be off somehow.
It makes for a great setting, as everything from the building itself to its innards seem creepily askew.
It holds myriad secrets that are tucked away, like the odd nooks and hallways full of unsettling amounts of fishing paraphernalia and hidden corner cubbies full of shabby books.
And ‘Mom’ wants ‘family time’ to be devoid of cell phones in the house, and so the modern interconnectivity of the world and its people easily communicating is stoppered bringing further isolation at times. When the phones come to back to life it is alarming.
The characters are each well met in the story, and the relatable, familiar family interactions spark lots of memories of growing up.
You may not like each member of the Parrishs, but they are certainly all intriguing, from the nearly divorced parents almost certain of their fate, to their two children, who are young adults struggling through recent trauma.
Lark is a novice novelist, battling through a bad break-up, and her brother, Leo, is distanced from her (and everyone), as he aims to leave the grief of his best friend’s death behind with an escape to the shores of Thailand.
Ania Ahlborn brilliantly keeps the characters off balance, as well as the reader.
The seemingly discernable arcs of each of the characters become further and further confused as their sense of calm and, at times, outright sense of terror is ratcheted up in stark, unexpected ways.
Who would torment the family of four? Is it personal, and if so, why travel 1000 miles to dole out such cruel punishment? Are there any supernatural elements at play?
The prose is wonderfully written, painting clear, boisterous scenes with visceral jolts to the heart.
Suspense and old fashioned, yet modernized, and innovative mystery meets elements of horror in this fantastic phantasm of a tale.
Dark Across The Bay by Ania Ahlborn is an amazing work from one of speculative fiction’s brightest minds.
Her use of world building and literary prowess makes for one hell of a story, and Dark Across The Bay debuts on a fine press publisher with Signed and Limited editions from Earthling Publications.
There are 500 numbered, Smyth sewn, offset printed copies, signed by Ania Ahlborn and Josh Malerman, as well as 15 lettered, offset printed, tray-cased hardcovers, with both the book and the tray-case being hand-made using the finest materials, and signed by all contributors.
The gorgeous cover art and interior art is brought to us by renowned illustrator Vincent Chong, and the book contains an introduction from the author as well as best seller Josh Malerman (author of Bird Box and Goblin).
They still have copies available! Take a look here!
If you are not familiar with Earthling, they have made some of the finest hand-crafted editions of books, each with their own unique feel.
An all-time grail for this reviewer is Earthling’s lettered edition of The Hellbound Heart: 20th Anniversary Edition (2007) novella by Clive Barker, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the design of Dark Across The Bay by Ania Ahlborn.
We already know the cover art from Vincent Chong is outstanding.
We will conduct a more in-depth review after the book is released, going further into the novel and into the book edition.
But for now this has to be one of the most eagerly awaited suspense and horror books coming this year, and our rating is:
“Dark Across The Bay By Ania Ahlborn Coming From Earthling” was written by R.J. Huneke