Wild Dark Times
By: Austin Case
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
It’s the summer of 2012 and Elizabeth Megalos is a disillusioned art-school grad getting by as a bank teller in St. Louis. One evening, she’s attacked by a possessed coworker and saved by a mysterious, wise-cracking sorcerer named Eddy. He drags Elizabeth and Hugh—a skeptical scholar of the occult—to Europe, where he introduces them to his three magical celebrity friends. Once there, Eddy explains the group’s mission: preventing a Demiurge—a creature out of Gnostic Christian mythology—from fulfilling the visions of doom in the Book of Revelation. The Demiurge has been drawing power from the misguided beliefs in the Mayan apocalypse and is set to start the destruction on Dec. 21st, 2012. Through ritual magic and a series of psychedelic experiences, the group learns that Elizabeth is the key to taking down the Demiurge, though she can’t imagine how she will be the one to stop Armageddon.
“Elizabeth, I don’t think this is the first time that an apocalypse has almost happened. There have been people claiming that the end is nigh for thousands of years. The way things have gone in the past—what, with the awful things people have done to each other and the large-scale tragedies that have occurred—I can’t imagine things didn’t get close to ending quite a few times. But there are good people out there, people who care about the world and struggle to help. People who can see the beautiful in the world and strive for compassion and peace instead of destruction. Have you ever heard of the Gospel of Thomas?”
Elizabeth shook her head.
“It’s a Gnostic gospel. A book of sayings attributed to Jesus but which was left out of the Bible. While the New Testament talks about the Kingdom of God and the apocalypse that would lead to this perfected place, Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas says that it’s here already. That, essentially, it’s a matter of perceiving the perfection of things that are already here. This view is common to lots of other mystical traditions. In a way, the apocalypse could be seen as that Gnostic or mystical insight, where the world as we know or understand it falls apart around us, and all that is left is the Kingdom of God. The falling apart is just a matter of perception and is necessary to see the true beauty before us already…
Wild Dark Times takes a magical twist set in the few months with a group of people with various magical powers joined together to stop the apocalypse set to happen on December 21, 2012. Taking a more enchanted and dangerous adventure towards how to stop it all, the premise itself is intriguing because with fantasy of these types, there is always its own little twist on its own magical world of creatures and elements and how magic works in this urban fantasy reality. Due to those adventure elements, Wild Dark Times is quite a page-turning experience, more so as the novel dives deeper and further into each location that it moves to and the next event that happens as they approach doomsday itself, the stakes are higher just as the characters developed have taken a certain level of importance to the story as a whole as well.
As each of the characters chases down one location to the next and figures out one clue to the next, each of this group has their shine in the spotlight and their worth in the group especially the two people acquired throughout this who initially seem like they don’t quite fit into any particular use in this whole equation. One of such is the the female leading character that somehow gets pulled into this and seems like it is way over her head because of her lack of knowledge and yet the group keeps her and the other more educational fellow along. It gives these characters a space to develop and they do work out quite well despite the fact that perhaps at times, it does feel like for the length of this novel, some of the characters in this group feel a little underdeveloped and some of them don’t quite leave quite the impression making it at times hard to track who is who at the beginning except for some of their more specific uses.
Wild Dark Times is pretty clever with the pacing of the whole story. While some of the characters are quite used as they should, the constant string of things happening does help to keep it very intriguing to follow despite it feeling slightly like its going through a formula for this magic to work as they figure out one place to the next and when and where which feels like it might need a little more back story but somehow still manages to tie it together in the end. What also does work well here is the stakes do seemingly increase as it moves along as the forces they fight against also creep closer as well. Overall, everything balances out between the urban fantasy and the paranormal along with the magic elements and whole saving the world from the apocalypse take in a fun and adventurous way.
Goodreads score: 4 out of 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Austin Case received a Master’s Degree from the University of Amsterdam in Western Esotericism and Mysticism. His academic knowledge of the occult and other peripheral phenomena has given him a unique take on fantasy and speculative fiction.
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