Reviews for the first Eddon + Vail book, The Dark
THE AGE (Melbourne)
Review by Lucy Sussex, Saturday 13th September, 1997,
under the title Mutant Fictions Emerge For The Millenium
("Shade's Children" by Garth Nix and "The Dark Edge" by Richard
"The Dark Edge" is the first major press publication for Richard
Harland, who gave up a tenured academic position to write full-time.
This apparently suicidal step would seem, on the evidence of "The
Dark Edge", to be very sensible, for the book is an imp ressive
blend of science fiction, crime and horror. The cover aims it
at the X-Files' audience, with the novel featuring a male and
female investigation team, a policeman and a psychic.
"The Dark Edge" departs from the 'X-Files' scripts by having
its detectives venture into outer space, to the planet P-19 (hence
the book's original, poetic, Philip K. Dick-style title, "The
Darkening of Planet P-19"). The colonists have a murderer on the
loose, with superhuman strength and a contempt for the body that
leaves victims bizarrely mutilated. What the investigators discover
is that not one person is involved -- P-19's entire population
is metamorphosing into serial killers.
This nightmare is, as in "Shade's Children", most successfully
evoked, for both books are genuinely scary. Harland's framework,
however, is drawn from the crime genre, which results in tight
plotting and relentless narrative momentum. The cause of P-19's
madness or disease must be discovered before those unaffected
are outnumbered and annihilated -- or worse, become the enemy.
The result is a superior thriller and a novel very hard to put
In these two novels we see genres cross-pollinating, most fruitfully.
If either could be said to have the (dark) edge, it would be Harland's
novel, for its narrative energy. Moreover, it is not attempting
to merge genres and appeal to different age-groups at the same
time, something Nix accomplished better in "Sabriel" than in "Shade's
Children". Yet both books are far more successful than a summary
of their genre parts would suggest.
Review by S.D. (Stella Dimadis), September 8th, 1997,
under the title "Page-Turner of the Week"
When four murders are committed on the dark, metallic and independent
Planet P-19 in the year 2660, Central Inspector Eddon Brac and
his assistant, sexy psychic Vail ev Vessintor, are despatched
to solve them. But their detective legwork soon becomes a fr enzied
search as both the killings and the killers multiply nightly,
and Vessintor uses her psychic powers to decipher a code that
reveals the murders are induced by a transmitter instilling hatred
for humanity across the planet.
Yorkshire-born, Sydney-based Harland's 1993 'comic-horror' The
Vicar of Morbing Vyle has become a cult success, and The Dark
Edge -- the first of a planned series of science-fiction novels
that will feature Brac and Vessintor -- looks set t o go the same
way. Funny, horrific and full of suspense, it's a wild spacey
ride, with each page presenting a twist and a clever resolution.
The iZINE, an electronic popular culture
Review by Jayne Margetts
Under the title "Space Age Breakbeat"
Here's an extract:
Part Stephen King, part detective humming to a killer's beat.
Part Grimms Fairytale, part sci-fi alchemist. Richard Harland
could well become the godfather of the space age thriller with
a twist. He is a spectral beacon in the global stratospheres of
millennium fever who would feel as comfortable aboard the Starship
Voyager as he would inside Children Of The Corn's own company.
the full review, click here - and have a browse through the
rest of the 'zine while you're there.