What if the darkness in our minds crossed over to the real world only to begin consuming all we hold dear? It’s a strong story concept, but will it stick the landing?
The Dark Side Of The Room : Extended Edition
Author : Tyler Jones
Published October 2020 as an Independently published release
262 pages : Kindle Edition
Like many, my first experience with Tyler Jones was through his novella Criterium and I greatly enjoyed that story. I had picked up this book, The Dark Side of the Room, shortly after finishing Criterium but hadn’t gotten around to diving into it until just recently.
The Dark Side of the Room is told through the eyes of a lonely and elderly Betsy Lupino. Betsy lives alone with her six cats in an apartment building that seems to be less than ideal. Broken elevators, fire damage and some pretty iffy neighbors, including the new resident she meets in the lobby of the apartment. The new resident doesn’t say much, has a horrible, limping way of walking, and gives off a vibe that makes Betsy uneasy, even though she can’t quite put her finger on why.
Through Betsy, the horrific tale unfolds as we find out she has an ever increasing darkness in her mind that seems to have seeped into her reality.
And that darkness has teeth.
There is something so relatable and comfortable in the way Jones writes. It never feels like we are being talked down to and there is a feeling of his stories being tailor made to be passed from one person to the next at late night parties, campfires, and anywhere else people gather to share a good scary story.
Except this isn’t just a typical ghost story or creature feature. He gives us a very human connection to the characters, giving you something to care about in the face of the horrific happenings.
While I wasn’t drawn to the character of Betsy quite as much as Zach from Criterium, my heart broke as we find out what she is going through, as well as the ramifications of what she faces by the end of the story.
Betsy is, for all intents and purposes, and unreliable narrator. She is never sure if what is happening is real, imagined or made up, or just a twisted version of a false memory her failing mind is creating. It’s something that leaves this story feeling a bit open and uneasy about just what has happened.
The additional novella included in the Extended Edition helps to answer some of those questions, but not entirely.
Having witnessed the horrible nature of mental decline from dementia in family members, I really enjoyed the way Jones created Betsy’s “version” of what was happening. The Memory Room, and the title phrase ‘The Dark Side of the Room’, was a perfect way to describe this horrible illness.
Then, as he takes us quickly down the path of her mental collapse, he throws in a twist that makes us sit up and wonder about the shadows around us every night. The darkness just might be real, and deadly, and we are left with that itchy feeling between our shoulder-blades as we wonder what lurks in our own darkness.
As I mentioned,the Extended Edition also contains a short novella called Along the Shadow, which compliments the story in The Dark Side of the Room nicely.
I’ll leave that for you to discover for yourself.
The only thing I’ll say is that I no longer feel like wandering around town when the back alley’s begin to flood with inky darkness!
While The Dark Side of the Room is a very different story than that in Criterium Jones’s writing style is consistently impactful and focused on bringing us along with wonderful characters facing the worst possible side of problems many wrestle with every day. Be it addiction problems, memory and dementia problems, or grief and loss, he has a way of taking these issues and twisting them into heartfelt and gut punching horror stories.
I highly recommend adding both The Dark Side of the Room and Criterium to your shelf if you are a fan of character and emotion driven horror novella’s.
The Dark Side of the Room by Tyler Jones gets a 4 out of 5 stars.
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