A review by teamredmon
Walk The Darkness Down, by John Boden

5.0

This novel beat me up. Upon first glance, Walk The Darkness Down appears to be just like any other horror novel. The beautiful cover gives no hints to the content, and a cursory flip through the pages belies none of the glorious weirdness within. The chapters are short, many only a page or two, and with only roundabouts 150 pages, this book should have been an easy, quick read. But this book is dangerous and has a strong riptide that will pull you under. John Boden’s writing is literary quicksand, and like quicksand, it will kill you if you struggle. The only way to read Walk The Darkness Down is to go slow as hell. I regularly read 75-100 pages a day, but I struggled to get through 20 a day in this book. And let’s get this straight. That is NOT a criticism. The writing is exquisite and intense. The language that Boden uses is beautiful and he writes in a way that is unlike anything I’ve read in a long, long time. This novel is an incredible achievement, and I can think of only one book that I would compare it to, and that’s Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.

Walk The Darkness Down is the story of four people. Jones, Jubal, Keaton, and Levi. You will excuse me if I don’t give many more details because I will do them no justice. These four are in their own worlds, but the world is shrinking and bringing them together. It’s shrinking because Levi is on a mission that he describes as creating a door but amounts to destroying everything and everyone he meets. To hold my earlier comparison, Levi is like The Judge from Blood Meridian, the physical representation of evil and whose motivations are incomprehensible outside of being evil. Throughout the book, Levi burns and murders and pillages and decimates across various towns and leaves them a dead husk. As Levi burns the world, the main characters are drawn closer together, and on the way, they meet some of the more memorable characters that I’ve recently read. Keaton is on the lamb with Jubal after being accused of killing a woman and burning her house down. They are pursued by Jones, the dead woman’s son. My absolute favorite part of one of my new favorite books is Jones’ interaction with a dying man named Bob Ford and Bob’s wife, Kellianne. These are all characters you need to get to know on your own. Their journey is one that is best experienced with as little foreknowledge as possible.

Walk The Darkness Down is a masterpiece. It should be spoken of in the same breath as classics of American literature. Nothing else that I have read this year comes close to the quality of this novel. John Boden is a must-read author, and this is a must-read book. I have seen a lot of recent talk that people use the five-star rating too often. I poo-pooed that sentiment until I read this book. This one breaks my scale because right now, I want to give Walk The Darkness Down 7 stars. So, ignore the 5-star rating, this one gets 7 stars and my HIGHEST recommendation.