The assassin Vain attempts to protect a young boy who could prove to be Earth's salvation or its doom.
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Author Luke Romyn
The Dark Path
THE DARK PATH sees Vain, an assassin without peer, placed into an impossible situation. Coerced into the protection of a young boy, Vain finds his skills of death and torture useless against a force of evil which threatens the very Earth. The Souls of Sordarrah - a zealous cult fronted by their mysterious leader Empeth and a group known only as The Four - are pitted against him, intent upon sacrificing the boy Sebastian in order to raise their demonic lord Sordarrah from the pits of Hell.
Vain entered the warehouse lot, swiftly becoming one with the shadows. Finding every alcove and hiding place, floating smoothly and without haste from one to the next, he finally reached the warehouse and slid along the outside wall to the back of the building. Once there he paused and listened. Satisfied nothing felt amiss, he vanished through an open window and into the darkened building.
Light flickered from a small office towards the front of the warehouse. Vain slowly made his way along the inside wall and paused outside the doorway. Inside he could hear quiet breathing and a low hum. Noiselessly he drew a dark bladed knife and dropped to the ground, inching his way into the doorway.
From his position on the floor, Vain watched a lone man dressed in a suit sitting cross-legged before what appeared to be an altar. However, this altar contained neither crucifixes nor holy water. Splayed across a black marble bench top, Vain noticed the remnants of what might have once been a dog. Not much remained to identify the beast, except for a single bloodied paw hanging by a sinew towards the centre of the mound. Amidst the mangled flesh, a smoldering pile of coals discharged a noxious odor into the air. The man inhaled the smoke from the burning flesh and rocked back and forth, murmuring softly.
Vain sank into a crouch, and crept up behind the man. Nearing the altar, the assassin’s mind began to swim from the fumes, and he realized the smoke must have been a narcotic. He glanced at the walls of the office, suddenly dripping with blood and gore, small mouths opening and closing in silent screams of anguish.
Astonishing insight into apparently amoral evil, derived from pain
I'm not typically a fan of the "Horror Genre". The Dark Path is in no sense typical, nor does any of the violence seem to be gratuitous or illogical. To term this novel "A Psychological Thriller" would, IMO, misrepresent its sensitivity and power. The Dark Path is a book that seems to defy categorization, which is an amazing accomplishment.
'Vain' is not an amoral, psychopathic man. He has, like many humans who begin to inhabit an existence most would consider absolutely evil, experienced trauma so devastating that his mind cannot contain it. Anyone who has had a father, brother, friend who has been in the front lines of a war who "survived" physically but were haunted all their lives by the memories of watching buddies die just feet away may recognize how a human being can become torn apart and often irreparably changed by these terrible events when they are unable to intervene.
When the rage of killing becomes a reflex in a world that ceases to make sense, where there seems to be no justice to deliver but your own, human beings sometimes appear to become monsters. Luke Romyn understands and is able to communicate with uncanny fluency what can happen when a human mind is overwhelmed by agonizing pain.
For too many people, no matter how much time passes the memories are as fresh and the wounds so raw that a decade or many decades pass and yet the feeling and vision remains as potent as it might have happened yesterday or is happening here and now.
'Vain' is extreme in his response to trauma, but so are people who become violent and brutal alcoholics attempting to drown their sorrows only to find their sorrows growing deeper with time as they alienate even the most loving and courageous persons in their lives. Individuals react differently to Post-Traumatic Stress. Humans who cannot make peace with the pain within their hearts and minds very often become destructive and dangerous.
I immediately felt empathy for this man some reviewers called an "anti-hero". When Priest looks into eyes perceived as utterly dark and evil by all others and sees Pain, this is the reality. Pain is felt by all within this spiritual place, because everyone there has lived it, acted upon it, committed acts that they regret having done and cannot undo. Yet, for some, life must go on. How?
The spirituality in The Dark Path is extraordinary, magical in a way I can only compare to extremely powerful spiritual leaders who have lived and died a hundred times in the span of one existence seeking nothing more than to perfect genuine compassion within themselves for the sake of themselves and therefore all others. Like Shaman, who choose paths of fire rather than walks in the park and know that to fear demons is the surest way to die, but to show genuine respect and understanding means the demon will do them no harm ~ this is the spirituality that quiets the angry beast within us and reveals to us what we are capable of doing, of becoming, when our hearts seem broken beyond all hope of repair.
This is a truly unique book. Luke Romyn's understanding of "what makes people tick" causes me to wonder if he has undergone great trauma, gotten lost for awhile and found reason to turn his life around. He writes as though he's inhabited the skin of these various characters, if only in his intense imagination. I agree with the other reviewers who've written that once you begin reading, The Dark Path compels you to continue reading. This book casts a spell that is, for me, more beautiful than horrifying.
A compelling, thought provoking...EXCELLENT MUST read!!
I met Vain on Christmas afternoon. I found him when I peeled back the electronic pages of my Amazon Kindle.
He was in the middle of doing what he does best...torturing and killing for a price. I found him while reading Luke Romyn's debut novel..."The Dark Path."
From the very beginning I was intrigued. I wanted to know who this Vain person was. Was he a person, a demon, or simply a figment of someone's imagination??
I was hooked from the first paragraph on. The book is labeled to be a spiritual thriller... I wanted to know why. Actually... I NEEDED to know why. At first I hated this "Vain." He was doing unimaginable things in cold blood with no remorse. He is someone I would have written off...but Luke Romyn brilliantly continues to pull you into this fascinating story...He made me WANT to keep going...to find out who VAIN really was and why.
The back cover reads:
Vain is an assassin - and he is very, very good at what he does.The underworld cowers at the mere mention of his name and wherever Vain walks, death soon follows.
Vain must battle the evil within his own soul as well as the minions of Sordarrah in order to save the boy from the ritual that will prove the undoing of all of existence. They have no chance at success, and yet they cannot surrender.Will Vain overcome his own instincts and save the boy, or will he condemn him and the entire planet to an eternity of suffering? Will Vain stray from his Dark Path through life? Only time will tell... and that is running out.
This man is the last person on Earth who should be put in charge of the safety of a young boy who could hold the salvation of mankind in his future. This man is more likely to kill the boy than to keep him safe.... This man is the boy's only chance.
I was finding myself inside this killer's mind and wanting to know what drove him to this place. The book is brilliantly written...bringing such vivid life to his characters..and mind provoking predicaments... It has been a very long time since I found myself so involved in a work of fiction.
For a Thriller, this book is so much more...I highly recommend this thought provoking read, you will NOT be disappointed.
And finally...a THANK YOU to Mr. Romyn...You have truly challenged me to continue in my craft....and UP MY GAME in the Spiritual Thriller genre. I truly look forward to more books from you in the very near future.
Here is where you can find this book. You can also follow Luke Romyn on Twitter...just like his novel...his tweets will not disappoint either!! I promise!!!
And I thought I didn't like horror...
Let me state for the record that this is not my genre. I usually avoid the horror aisle in the bookstore and I don't like horror movies. I even feel cheated when I go to a sci-fi movie that is actually horror with sci-fi elements. I bought this book because I enjoy the author's interactions on Twitter and wanted to support his writing. I knew that The Dark Path has won awards and that fans of the genre had praised it highly. But, as I said, I don't like horror.
But I loved The Dark Path. I was quickly drawn into the story and couldn't put it down. If it weren't for real life interruptions, I would have been lost in Vain's world for the duration. Vain is not the sort of person you want to identify with. He is both feared and revered, but mostly just feared. The life events that created Vain are horrific, and give real insight into how he came to be. Those insights set the stage for the journey he makes and helps the reader understand why he does what he does, both before and after meeting the mysterious Priest, even if Vain doesn't always understand it himself.
Now, don't be deceived, this is indeed a horror story with plenty of blood, gore, and horrific acts, and this is what normally keeps me away from the horror genre. I seldom think they add anything to the story being told, but in The Dark Path, these events come across as almost reluctantly shared. Not the reason for telling the story, but simply a necessary element for understanding it.
I highly recommend The Dark Path for adults who enjoy a great story, well told.
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