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Night Worms Book Party: THE BLACKENING by Seán O'Connor

It's challenging to get your book out into the world during a global pandemic. It's especially difficult when you live in Ireland and you want to get your book into the hands of American horror fans. Night Worms offered to receive a shipment of books and tuck them into some of our packages going to readers who have reviewed for us as a bonus. Here is a round-up of some of those reviews! Thank you to the author, 

Seán O'Connor for sending his book for free in exchange for honest reviews:

THE BLACKENING by  Seán O'Connor












3.5/ 5

The Blackening, by Sean O’Connor, is a fun and quick read. With a solid amount of gristle and mayhem that carried the narrative for me.

I am the type of reader that looks for quality characters and strong dialog first and foremost. I tend to be turned off by reads featuring a strong police or military authoritative presence, simply due to the similarities these types of characters tend to come prepackaged with. I don’t like to use the term cliche because this could legit be the way police act and speak, it’s just always feels familiar and one dimensional. The Law and Order effect. Same with The Blackening. Officer John Ward could be replaced by any other “cop who’s lost his taste for the job” and it would play the same. I’d have liked Uber rugged Officer Ward have another complementary personality to balance out with, but not one character really stands out as overly compelling, or equally as interesting.

Which led to my own interest waining shortly after the rather great opening chapter. What is one to do when they aren’t connecting with a book? Give up entirely or tinker with the perception a bit? I chose the latter. When I started digesting the material as an old school B-Movie, staticky and low-def, I found my connection strengthening. The imagery of The Blackening is awesome and lends itself nicely to the 80’s creature feature frame of mind and vibe. And as such, the evil slithering around wreaking havoc is the one I was rooting for. Plus there’s something about cold and somewhat isolated areas that pairs well with this particular brand of horror. Horror in general, really. Any scene utilizing the scenery excelled beyond the characters, coincidentally these are the same scenes featuring our big bad. The black sand beach, the caverns, I ache to be there.

The Blackening, the opening scene and the last 60 or so pages really sold it for me. Really good stuff there. I’d wager your overall enjoyment will hinge on how you feel about the cast or personalities.

Thank you to the Night Worms crew and also to Mr. O’Connor for the review opportunity.

As per usual, your experience will (and should vary.) Let me know what you think.
Zakk is a big dumb animal!


Mindi's review


The Blackening by Seán O'Connor sounds promising. Set in a remote village in Iceland, a young woman goes missing near a cave days before a popular tourist attraction, the Northern Lights Festival, is about to occur. Police Inspector Ward wants to cancel the festival, however the Commissioner is loathe to lose the money that comes in with the attraction, and so he refuses to shut down the area. After a couple of scientists arrive in town to study a mysterious goo that is found near where the woman was abducted, and which is now a homicide site after body parts are found on the beach covered in the black substance, Ward becomes desperate to stop the festival. But is it already too late?

I've always wanted to visit Iceland, so I was excited when I learned that O'Connor wrote this book after a solo trip around the country. I'm a fan of cosmic horror, but even more I'm a fan of character-driven stories. Unfortunately, none of the characters in The Blackening are more than one dimensional. All of them are basically tropes that serve to move the plot along, and almost all of them do something inexplicable for their character before the end of the book. There is also a few instances of clunky dialogue that doesn't really make sense.

I think if the characters had been more developed I would have enjoyed this one more. There is a surplus of cosmic stories in the horror genre lately, so it takes something unique to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, this story felt a little too much like familiar ground, with nothing to separate it from countless other stories of an evil cosmic entity poised to end all of humanity. I enjoyed O'Conner's novella The Mongrel, so I'm definitely interested in reading more from him. This story just didn't happen to connect with me.


Chandra's Review


As a fan of nordic noir, police procedurals and horror I'm a HELL YES to The Blackening, which is a combo of all three. Unfortunately, it didn't *quite* work for me.

An Iceland setting, people disappearing and a monster! It's a short 210 pages and pretty easy to breeze through. The issues I had are fairly small. I read a ton of thrillers/police procedurals but typically not combined with a cosmic horror element so I don't want to judge harshly from what I'm used to in reading those (which is easier said than done sometimes). So baring back any expectations, I tried to just enjoy it from an entertainment perspective. And you know what, the monster is my favorite character and I don't know what it means that I felt more in tune with it than any of the characters. Honestly, I would have loved some character build of any of them. And I'll never forget Ally's name because Ben said it ... all... the... time. This may just be a personal preference - I side eye people who say people's names over and over in conversation. It makes me think they're trying too hard to be human... but that's a whole other story so let's get back to this one.

Perhaps I would've liked this story if there was just a little more meat in the sandwich. The concept, however familiar, is a fun one and one I think I would've liked better had we actually had seamless scenes. Some parts felt a bit choppy or forced and while I am one to suspend all kinds of reality ALL the time with no issue, I had issues with these characters and denounce instalove in horror... or any book please. Haha - mostly joking there. 😉

Overall, come for the cover, stay for the monster. While this was a little bit of a miss for me, I did enjoy the atmosphere the author gave us. The Nordic scene is gorgeously perfect for crime and horror.


Ashley's Review
"I was intrigued by the setting taking place in Iceland but unfortunately, this book was not for me." 


Sadie's Review


THE BLACKENING is my third Seán O'Connor read. The last book, WEEPING SEASON was a fast paced, page-turner. I enjoyed it. This book seemed to mash-up a favorite genre, Crime/Murder Mystery (set in Iceland! Bonus) with a not-so-favorite genre, Cosmic Horror. 
The book starts off with a bit of Amity/Jaws vibe when a woman disappears under very mysterious circumstances and the lead investigator wants to cancel a big tourist attraction for the safety of the townsfolk but the Police Commissioner vetos this with a concern for tourist dollars over safety. 
A sub-plot with some scientists develops. They are researching a black substance found at the location where the missing woman was last seen. This sub-plot, in my opinion, should have lead the story. For me, this is just a case of one part of the story being more interesting for the reader than the other and a growing frustration anytime the focus shifts to the less unique storyline. I loved touring around Iceland with O'Connor because it felt so authentic--to the point where I'm sure the author has either traveled there a few times or just researched the hell out of it. The cosmic horror element was a great compliment to the missing woman story and the when THE BLACKENING transitions into a creature-feature is when I felt a little bit of a lift. However, with all the set up, thin character development, and some clunky dialog weighing these aspects down--the wind dropped out of the sails for me.
A solid 3 stars that could have easily been 4 or 5 with some re-working. As per usual, I will always read anything  O'Connor puts out because he does have a unique storytelling voice that I enjoy. 


Janelle's Review



2.5 stars—rounding up for Goodreads.

When I got wind of Seán O'Connor’s THE BLACKENING, I knew I had to read it. There are so many things to love about this book: the gorgeous Icelandic setting, a frightening creature, and a fun survival story. And while those things worked greatly, I was a little let down by the dialogue and main protagonists. Some of these characters weren’t my cup of tea, but I encourage you to read it for yourself.

The Northern Lights festival is a big tourist attraction and the townspeople rely on it for their livelihoods. However, when a girl goes missing, police inspector John Ward warns against moving forward with the festival. The lone witness described the kidnapper as some sort of shadow, which is intriguing to say the least. Of course, the festival continues and Ward, who has been shunned by his previous post, may need assistance to investigate the witness’ account and the odd evidence left behind.

The best part about this book is the setting. I have always wanted to go to Iceland, especially to the village of Vík í Mýrdal and the breathtakingly beautiful black sand beaches of Reynisfjara. And the storyline of missing tourists with an evil presence lurking is always a good idea. This “shadow” is terrifying and leaves a trail of slimy evidence—it’s a whole lot of fun with some great imagery. My problem lies with the cliché characters and dialogue. Maybe I’ve just read a lot of police procedurals, leaving me burned out on them. Right now my go-to for that is Nordic crime thrillers (shocking, LOL).

If THE BLACKENING sounds like your thing, go for it! I’d love to know what you think.

As always, thank you to the Night Worms and publisher for my free copy. #NightWormsBookParty

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