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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review: Dark Heart: The Purgatory of Leo Stamp by Darren J. Guest

On Leo's sixteenth birthday, something bad happened. Something so traumatic his mind fractured, and darkness filled the crack. Twenty years on and the crack is a canyon. The schizophrenic hallucination that once offered sympathy has taken to mocking him, and the memory of that long-ago birthday claws at his darkest fears, overshadowing even the murder of his younger brother Davey. But just when life can't get any worse... Leo dies.

A demon returns after twenty years.

An angel follows close behind.

Leo is caught in an age-old conflict, his past lying at the dark heart of it all.

This was a clever and complex dark (horror) urban fantasy about second chances, forgiveness, doing the right thing and choosing who made the best James Bond; Sean Connery or Roger Moore. When I was done reading I had to sit and think for a while to figure out what exactly happened and how I felt about it. This isn't a light read, it needs you complete attention. There might not be many characters but things can get a little mixed up if you aren't paying attention. I know I am being vague but there are many unexpected twists essential to the suspense that would be ruined for you if too much plot is given away. 

The story is told from the POV of multiple characters. Leo Stamp is the poor guy at the center of a millennium long battle between a demon and an angel. Guest has created a unique and interesting mythos on life, death and where a soul goes. A secondary character named Mick is one of my favorites. He is a wise old man and a father figure for Leo. I loved his attitude and even though he had a small part in the story he makes a big impact. The bad guy in this one is truly insane and makes for great conflict.

The writing felt plotted out at times and a little dry. I had to reread and flip back sometimes to keep up with what was happening and I think the author assumed I would connect some of the dots that didn't seem clear enough for me. But watching the clever story unfold was fascinating and the themes thought provoking.
I am glad I read it, and I even had an email conversation with the author about some of my questions and thoughts. This is worth a read. 

4 “Dark Hearted” Sheep

Sharon Stogner (edited BAK)

About the author:

Darren J Guest was born in London in 1970 and now lives and writes in Suffolk. His debut novel Dark Heart is a supernatural suspense filled with psychological complexity and twists aplenty. He can't remember when his mind went dark, but suspects it had something to do with reading Stephen King.

this is he creepy ass twitter avatar, cool huh?


  1. Sounds like it was an interesting read.

    That Twitter avatar is creepy.

    1. it was interesting...and yes, that avatar is fabulously creepy I think it is a character of his...