Long Journey Into Darkness is the dark tale of love and romance between cousins that turns fatal. Very Gay, Set in England turn of the century, coming to New York to start again only to be followed by the past, finding love and ………..there is however a little stage drama, murder and more.
Review by Erastes
First, the cover. Normally I wouldn’t have the cover reflect the mark because more often than not the author has no input or little—into it. However, as this is self-published I have to say that that it’s not really at all reflective of the book. In fact, the picture I received with the Kindle version is not this picture at all–it’s of a naked man sitting on a chair with his hand over his cock. That made me think that it was gay porn not “early 20th century homosexual drama.”
I’m not sure when it was set either, I thought it was Victorian, but the cinema is up and running, and the martini had been invented so it has to be after 1912. That being said – there’s no mention of the war, so I think there’s something very wrong with the timeline.
If only that was the only problem!
Although the cover is not at all apt, the title certainly is. Because for me this wasn’t just a (very) long (or so it seemed) journey into darkness, it was a bumbling about in absolute darkness with no clue about what the heck was going on. The beginning is so jumbled, and so riddled with errors it’s pretty incomprehensible and I had to force myself to read on.
Basically a guy called Ethan Morris is on a train going to visit his lover. He calls into a house which we assume, as he’s expecting to see this Robert there, is Robert’s house, despite the fact that we told that Robert is rolling in money and this is a poor miner’s cottage. However there’s a woman called Edna there who tells him that all the posh furniture came as gifts from Robert and she and Robert are an item. This was odd to begin with because why would he be sending gifts to her in his house? Then Ethan gets on a train goes to a posh hotel in Liverpool, signs in under the name of Robert Morris (the guy and cousin he was in love with) but sends his luggage to the boat under the name of Ethan Morris. When he’s on the boat, he’s known as Ethan Morris to everyone and tells everyone that Robert is his cousin. Then a newspaper is read (the next day) that Ethan Morris had disappeared (which is daft to begin with, who’d care that quickly about a poor teacher?) and it’s a great discussion around the boat, but the discussion is about Robert Morris who’s missing, and not Ethan, despite what the newspaper said, and despite everyone on the boat knowing him as Ethan, and him actually being on the passenger list as Ethan, when he gets to New York, people call him Robert, and he’s known as having travelled out on the ship, despite being Ethan on the ship and everyone knowing that Robert was his cousin. *draws breath *
Confused? Yeah. Me too.
Even the ship changes its name! If you read this, prepare to be more confused because by the end, if I hadn’t been holding my Kindle, I would have hurled the book out of the window.
The thing is that the prose itself–in spots–isn’t all that bad. There are some really nice passages and the normal narrative is quite readable, but I spent so long scratching my head and wondering if it all was meant to be confusing or whether the author just didn’t bother to get anyone to check it over (guess which one is probably true) that I couldn’t enjoy the bits that were half decent. And those that were decent were marred by typos littered about like confetti, incorrect homonyms and all sorts of grammatical horrors, such as using verbs as nouns for one.
We get passages like this:
“Edna was nothing to me but an interpreters of her sex.”
Whatever that means. There are many instances of words being used in the oddest ways. And I can’t tell whether it was a typo and the author meant “interpretation” or “an interpreter “or whether they were using the word in good faith, but didn’t actually know what it meant.
Another example of this – there are many – is
“He feed the linen-coated porters and dismissed them as rapidly as possible.
Which I cannot glean the meaning of at all. No, it’s not freed. Or fed.
The sad thing is that there’s a germ of a good plot idea behind all this camouflage, but I doubt most readers would get past the first section, and the plot hole, by the time he gets to New York, is enough to throw a horse through. All the confusion would have been cleared up by “And I’ll see your passport, please.” It’s a shame, because a damned good editor would have whipped this into a more comprehensible shape.
I wish I could say it improved as it went along, but it didn’t. People start conversing to him as men and turn into women, people enter his room who promptly disappear never to be mentioned again—nothing happens for chapters except chat and going out for dinner, anything interesting happens off page—continuity errors every time Ethan opens his mouth. There’s even one very amusing typo where the author has obviously done a search and replace a character name from Price to Brice – but didn’t check each one, as the word price is also changed to Brice, which took me ages to work out what the devil sentences like “They lacked the Brice to do so” and “the Brice of creation”. I admit to a titter or two when I worked it out.
Ethan as a main character doesn’t exactly shine—and I couldn’t like him, which meant I wasn’t invested enough in him to care whether he found love and happiness or not. Not only does he kill Robert off, but he then steals his money, uncaring or not as to the plight of the factory workers who were no doubt thrown out of work when the factory foundered due to his criminal action. I was rather surprised when he proves himself to be aggressively bisexual, to be honest, because it’s tagged as “Gay Romance.”
As such it’s blatantly mis-represented because he chats up two women, actively courts one of them to the extent that she says they should get married. He never even checks men out, other than one of the porters on the boat. Gay romance my left foot.
It was at this point when something absolutely incomprehensible happened. The woman, Luella, that he had been courting since meeting her on the boat entirely disappeared, never to be seen or heard of again. Instead of which, suddenly we get some guy Simon, who had never been mentioned before (and we are about 80% of the way through at this point) who apparently Ethan had been keeping in a cabin up north of New York somewhere. All the plot points that had belonged to Luella suddenly were transferred to Simon–the most notable of which was that a multi-millionaire promised to ruin Ethan if he didn’t stop seeing Luella, and a promise to burn the theatre down. Suddenly, when Ethan declares he wants to be with Simon forever, they acknowledge that they’ll have trouble with the multi-millionare.
It’s pretty clear that the story started either as a purely gay romance and then author half-heartedly changed it to a hetero one to get published, and then only did a half-arsed job of converting it back. Or the other way around. Whichever it was, it put the nail in the coffin for the book for me, and despite the rather interesting ending I ripped off half of the solitary star that the book had already earned.
I wish I could say more good about it, because I don’t like having to be so brutally honest, but I believe that with a good edit this could have been a much much better book. But as it is, I’d have to recommend that you avoid it altogether.