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BOOK REVIEW: "Rise the Dark" by Michael Koryta

Rise the Dark can be described in two words: Delectably dark. The cast of characters live on both sides of the moral threshold and the story is intricately woven, made up of threads of evil, murder, desperation, and the extents we go to for the ones we love. It is about non-traditional bonds of family and what it means to take care of each other, even in the darkest of situations.

"Rise the dark." The last words written in Lauren Novak's notebook before she was murdered in a Florida town in which she had, until that day, never set foot. The words baffle her husband and the police as they search for clues about her murder. At the beginning of the book, Garland Webb (the man Lauren's husband believes to have killed his wife) is released from prison and Markus Novak's quest to find the man and bring him to his own kind of justice begins. That quest takes Mark to a strange town called Cassadaga, and it is here that he finds far more than he bargained for.

Alongside this storyline is that of Jay and Sabrina Baldwin. While lying in bed in their new home in Red Lodge, Montana, the Baldwins find themselves plunged into darkness as an act of vandalism causes a power outages. Jay, a high-voltage lineman, is called out to address the issue. While he is gone, Sabrina is abducted by Webb, who makes it very clear to Jay that he has a job for him to do if he ever wants to see his wife alive again.

At the heart of both storylines is a crazed messianic character named Eli Pate, the puppeteer behind many of the character's sinister actions. These two stories eventually intertwine to create a jaw-dropping climax.

What makes this book so different and compulsively readable is that it goes beyond being just about the crime, the victim, and the perpetrator. There is a strange heartbeat beating underneath all of that, one that makes the characters come more fully alive. Some of them have a very dark past, some have led a straight and narrow path, and all are motivated by bonds of love and family, and they will stop at nothing to do what they believe -- or have been led to believe -- to be right, even if that means doing things most of us would deem to be unthinkable.

You won't be able to stop turning the pages of this book. You will find yourself making excuses to read a few more pages. You'll carry it around with you in case you can steal a few moments to read it. You'll tell your friends about it. And maybe, just maybe, you'll lose a little sleep. But it will all be worth it. This is a book you won't soon be able to get out of your mind.

Until Rise the Dark I had never read anything by Koryta. After reading this title, I can't wait to read everything else.


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