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Review of After Dark by Bryan Lee

April 22, 2010

So life has been crazy this week and, I’m sorry to say, I haven’t gotten a lot read.  I’m in the middle of THREE books right now, none of which meet our parameters here at ATFE.  I’ve got a massive To Be Read pile of the Dead Tree variety and most of them are from big publishers.   Therefore I hopped over to Smashwords in search of something SHORT to review.  That’s one of the things I actually really like about e-publishing.  There are a lot more novellas and short stories–formats that typically do not sell well in print versions.  Sometimes you just don’t have the time to read something long.

In any event, I searched the free stuff based on under 25k and highest rating and stumbled across Bryan Lee’s short story After Dark. I had actually seen this over at Barnes and Noble and ignored it because it has a really lousy blurb: What if the neighborhood vigilante were a werewolf? That’s it.  That’s not a descriptive blurb.  That’s like the random “what if?” question that led to the story.  The reader ratings over there were pretty crappy, but since it had several 5 star ratings at Smashwords, I figured, what the heck.

I will give Mr. Lee this: the concept was interesting and could have been good.  Essentially you’ve got the protagonist, who is a werewolf, patrolling a park and intervening in the nighttime mugging of a jogger, scaring the ever-loving crap out of the bad guys.  That’s kind of where the good stuff ends.

The story itself is full of passive voice and has a great deal of telling rather than showing.  At times the language choice doesn’t work because it sounds like the protag is in human form rather than wolf.    It is also not clear until very late in the story whether he is the sort of werewolf who looks like a wolf or the sort of half man/half wolf creature one expects from Wolfman.  The ending was intended to be cliffhanger but felt instead more like he simply forgot to finish the story.  The one satisfying thing was that the bad guys got theirs.

I’ll give After Dark one and a half cookies.  I wasn’t nuts about it, but I think Lee shows potential.  He just needs to spend more time developing things and editing for punch and clarity before publishing.

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