And… here I go again singing praises about the work of Canada’s very own Ian Rogers. For those of you who don’t know, the Felix Renn/The Black Lands series has been going on for a little while now. There are currently 2 chapbooks (Temporary Monsters and The Ash Angels), 1 short story (My Body), and this novella in the series, and the promise of a full length novel in the works (as well as a currently unpublished short story that you can catch a sneak peek of below). I am a huge fan of these books and proudly shout the opinion that this is one of the most original takes on the whole supernatural-meets-detective themes you’re ever likely to read. Each story can be considered a stand-alone, and all are far superior to the vast majority of crossover pieces out there. For their brevity, for their action, and for their concept. And kids, I’m proud to announce that this is the scariest one yet.
Felix Renn is a private investigator in a world that co-exists alongside The Black Lands, a dark dimension filled with terrifying creatures.
After the woman he’s hired to follow turns up dead, Felix discovers he has drawn the attention of the Black-Eyed Kids – supernatural entities so dark and mysterious that even the government’s elite Paranormal Intelligence Agency knows little about them.
As the bodies continue to pile up, Felix quickly discovers he has no one to turn to, and that it’s only a matter of time before the Black-Eyes Kids come calling on him.
I wrote this on Twitter the day I broke open the book:
FUCKING YEEEESSSS!!! Only 1/4 through
@onemoreshadow‘s BLACK EYED KIDS and I’m already freaking out!! Dude… Amazing job so far!
And seriously… I had no idea what I was in for. At the 15 page mark I was terrified. Having read a lot, if not all, of Rogers’ work, I’d come to assume that I was going to mainly get style and content from this author. This novella proves that he’s not only capable of the above mentioned two things, but he’s also capable of setting you up for some truly intense scares. And good faith in the author, coupled with a vague sense of knowledge as to where the character is going, tells me that this is a trend that Rogers is going to set for the Black Lands novels. I’m stoked.
As with all of the Renn stories, the main character is very well fleshed out, sarcastic, funny, and never once over the top. Yes, he does get away with some moves that your average Joe couldn’t possibly consider pulling off to save their lives, but this is a supernatural story, so suspension of disbelief is absolutely required. Regardless, Renn is a modern day gunslinger with the attitude and chops with which to pull almost everything off. I find a commonality between Renn and Jake Helman, if only for the fact that they both keep getting their asses handed to them. Rogers is a lot more forgiving with his character, but rest assured that he puts him through his paces in the Black Eyed Kids chapbook. Nobody is safe.
Along with the introduction of what could be the most terrifying and incredible villains to hit the modern horror scene, Rogers also peppers in a new breed of baddie that just needs to be checked out. The Black Lands is a very intriguing place that offers nothing but opportunity for Rogers to create some terrifying monsters and badass bad guys. In this story, Rogers lets his imagination loose, creating a vicious monster that could very well be watching you on your way home from work.
Now, about the titular characters. The Black Eyed Kids, themselves, are absolutely terrifying. When they appeared in the story… it sent shivers down my spine. Theres nothing I can say to convince myself that a pair of pre-pubescent kids who stand and stare at their mark with colkd, dead, black eyes, isn’t scary. On the contrary, it’s the scariest thing in the whole damned world. And Rogers delivers them to the reader with brutal efficiency and no apologies whatsoever. These kids are the stuff of nightmares. For those of you who like comparisons, I found their moral or conscious stance to be close to that of Barker’s Cenobites (from his novella/short novel The Hellbound Heart). But that’s just me.
All in all, this is a brilliant entry in the Felix Renn series, and serves to make the reader want more more more. If Rogers and Burning Effigy continue to release such incredible, terrifying, and original piece of work in this series, I can only see things going up from here.
The Felix Renn/Black Lands series is something you’re going to want to get your hands on from the ground floor. This is exciting, original, and breathtaking stuff.
Watch this for a taste of what you can expect from the Black Eyed Kids chapbook.
And a sneak peek at Rogers’ unpublished Felix Renn Story, Out Of The Blue: