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Villejeune, Florida. A secluded little town at the edge of a vast, eerie swamp. Far from prying eyes. Far from the laws of civilization. Here folks live by their own rules -- dark rites of altars and infants, candles and blood.

Years ago the Andersons left town with a dream. Now they are back. To live out a nightmare. Something has been waiting for them. Something unspeakably evil. It feeds on the young and the innocent. And soon it will draw their teenage daughter into its unholy embrace....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553297263
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1992
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 371
Sales rank: 235,978
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

John Saul’s first novel, Suffer the Children, was an immediate million-copy bestseller. His other bestselling suspense novels include Perfect Nightmare, Black Creek Crossing, and The Presence. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling serial thriller The Blackstone Chronicles, initially published in six installments but now available in one complete volume. Saul divides his time between Seattle and Hawaii.

Read an Excerpt

Kelly Anderson could feel his presence close by, feel him searching for her, reaching out to her.
He’d been there, usually hovering just out of sight, for as long as Kelly could remember. Even when she’d been a tiny baby, long before she could walk or talk, she’d caught glimpses of him.
In her dreams, his face would come to her out of the darkness of sleep, leering at her, horrible features twisted into a malicious smile, his fingers—the clawed talons of a carnivorous bird—stretching toward her. She would awaken screaming, and her mother would hurry to her, lifting her from her crib, cradling her, soothing her, whispering to her that she was safe.
Those words were the first she learned.
You’re safe.
Even now, at sixteen, she could remember speaking the word.
But she hadn’t been safe. Not then, when her mother had whispered to her that everything was all right, that she’d only had a terrible dream, and not now, when even wide awake she could feel him creeping closer to her, reaching out, reaching.…
For what?
What was it he wanted from her?
She knew nothing about the monstrous figure of her nightmares; had no idea who he was, nor where he’d come from.
All she knew was that he was there, never far from her. Waiting. And he wanted something.
Tonight, as Kelly moved restlessly around the small house she shared with her parents, she knew he was closer than ever.
It was an oppressive night, unseasonably hot for early June, the kind of thick, muggy night that hung heavily, threatening to suffocate her. She’d opened the windows an hour before in the vain hope that even the faintest of breezes might stir the air, might cool her skin, might even drive away the madness that threatened to destroy her tonight.
She knew that’s what it was.
There was no man; there were no hands reaching out to her.
It was in her mind, all of it.
That’s what she’d been told, first by her mother, and then by the doctors her mother had taken her to.
The man who pursued her, who skulked eternally on the fringes of her life, existed only in her own mind. She’d made him up sometime long ago, and should have forgotten him, too, sometime almost as long ago.
She’d talked to the doctor for an hour a week, and tried to do what he’d told her, tried to figure out why she might have invented the man. For a long time the doctor had insisted that it was because she was adopted, telling her that she was imagining a father to replace the real father she’d never known. Kelly hadn’t believed him—after all, if she was going to create a father, he wouldn’t be anything like the terrible image she saw in her dreams. And why wouldn’t she have imagined a mother, too? Besides, she’d seen the man long before she’d ever known she was adopted, long before she’d begun to understand how different she was from everyone else.
Finally, when the nightmare man refused to go away, and she’d known he never would, she stopped talking about him, stopped trying to think of reasons why he might be there. Instead, she’d simply reported to the psychiatrist that he was gone, and at last she’d been allowed to stop going to the doctor.
For almost five years, she hadn’t mentioned him at all. But the frightening image that haunted Kelly’s nights had not gone away.
She’d stopped crying out in the night when he suddenly appeared out of the darkness of her slumber; stopped telling her mother when she caught glimpses of him at the veiled edges of her sight.
She stopped talking about much of anything, terrified that somehow she would slip, and her parents, or her teachers, or the other kids she knew, might find out that she was crazy.
For that’s what she was.
Her terrible secret was that only she knew it.
But tonight it would end.
She stopped her aimless prowling of the house and went to the small bedroom that had been hers for as long as she could remember. The hot, humid night seemed even more cloying in the confines of the room, as Kelly glanced over the few objects that stood against its faded walls.
It was, she thought, a tired-looking place, filled with worn-out furniture that had never been any good, even when it was new.
Just like herself: tired, worn-out, never any good even to start with.
A few months ago Kelly had covered the walls with posters-strange, dark images advertising the bands whose records she collected but rarely bothered to play.
Another of her secrets: she didn’t care about the bands, didn’t really like the music, didn’t even like the posters very much. But they covered the dullness of the walls, just as the clothes she wore—mostly black, decorated with metal studs and large ugly pins—were meant to cover up the aching emptiness she felt inside.
Except that Kelly wasn’t empty anymore.
She could almost feel the baby she knew was growing inside her.
Where had it come from?
Could the man have put it there?
Could he have taken her one night, creeping up on her when she was asleep?
Wouldn’t she have known it? Wouldn’t she have wakened, feeling him inside her?
No, she wouldn’t.
She would have shut it out of her mind, refusing to recognize what was happening, for had she allowed herself to experience it, she would have screamed.
Screamed, and wakened her parents, and then they would have seen how crazy she was.
No, she must have kept silent, must have retreated into sleep while the man took her. But she knew he’d been there, knew what he’d done.
She’d known it a month ago, when she’d begun being sick every morning, fighting not to let herself throw up, terrified of letting her parents know what had happened to her.
Last week, when she’d missed her period, Kelly had begun planning what she was going to do.
She wasn’t sure where the idea had come from. But now that the time had come, and she was alone in the house, and had made up her mind, she had the strange idea that she’d always known it would end this way—that some night, when she could no longer stand the sight of herself, she would end it all.
She left her room, not bothering to turn off the light, and entered the tiny bathroom that separated her room from her parents’. She stood in the gloom for a few minutes, staring at the image in the mirror. Only half her face was lit, illuminated by the dim light that filtered from the hall. She could see one of her eyes—the eyes her mother insisted were green, but that she knew were only a pale brown.
The eye stared back at her from the mirror, and she began to have the peculiar sensation that it wasn’t her own reflection she was seeing at all. It was someone else in the mirror, a girl she barely knew.
A stranger.
A stranger whose features looked older than her own sixteen years, whose skin seemed to have taken on the pallor of age, despite her youth.
She saw a lifeless face, devoid of the joy and eagerness of youth. The face of the orphan she truly was, despite what the parents who had adopted her tried to tell her.
And then, over her own darkened shoulder, another image appeared.
“It was the man. The man Kelly had seen so often in her dreams but only caught glimpses of when she was awake. Now she saw him clearly.
He was old, his loose skin hanging in folds, his eyes sunken deep within their sockets. He was smiling at her, his lips drawn back to reveal yellowing teeth.
Kelly gasped and spun around.
Except for herself, the room was empty.
She reached out, switched on the light, and instantly the gloom was washed away. She stood still for a moment, her heart pounding, but then her pulse began to ease. Finally, controlling her panic with the same grim will with which she had hidden her madness for the last few years, she turned back to the mirror once more.
He was still there, leering at her, his aged, ugly face contorted, the claws that were his fingers reaching for her throat.
“No!” Kelly screamed. “No more!”
“Her hands clenched into fists and she smashed them into the mirror above the sink. The mirror shattered and most of the glass dropped away. But a single shard, razor-sharp and shaped like a sword, remained where it was.
In the bladelike fragment Kelly could still see her ancient tormentor, mocking her, laughing at her, reaching out for her.
Another scream rose in her throat, but this time there were no words. Only a final cry of anguish echoed in the house as Kelly reached out and snatched the fragment of glass from its frame.
Clutching it in both hands, she stared at it as if mesmerized, then raised it up. Now. Now the time had come. In one swift motion she plunged the blade into her belly, determined to end the life of the monster that was growing inside her.
End its life, and end her own.

Customer Reviews

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Darkness 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was not just a GREAT book! I can't even find the words to describe it. All I have to say is you will never guess who is the Dark Man. I could not believe who it turned out to be. You will find it very easy to get into the characters of Kelly and Micheal. They are great and have you feeling for them the whole way through!
Lucidreader More than 1 year ago
Darkness was an eerie, intriguing, story of evil & greed. It has mystery, atmosphere, and a storyline that keeps you up reading. The characters are great, and very likeable. I definitely recommend this John Saul novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have nearly every single John Saul book written. This one is right up at the top of my favorites. A definite original plot, with loads of eery suspense. A must read for John Saul fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was awesome. It was scary and a page turner. I couldn't put it down. I can't say much about it because I don't want to give anything away. I just really liked it and I think I'll read more by John Saul. The back of the book is right, he 'has the instincts of a natural storyteller.'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first started this book, I couldn't get into it but after the first few chapters, I found it hard to put down. I loved it and would highly recommend to all readers who enjoy John Saul.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I read by John Saul and I must say I am rather impressed and I will be sure to read more of his books. I fell in love with his books right away. I thought that this book was very interesting and it was one of the first books that kept me on the edge of my seat. In fact I read it in one sitting, thats how good it was. I highly recommend reading this book, its very surprising and entertaining.
Scoshie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not one of his best but definitely very readable. has his usual good descriptors and will certainly draw you in to the story
WillyMammoth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The concept was interesting, but I found the writing to be sub-par and lackluster. Further, the stock characters weren't very interesting, and there weren't any real surprises in the narrative. In short, cool idea, horrible execution.This was my first experience with John Saul, and to be honest, it will probably be my last.
susanbevans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Unpredictable and compelling - this is a great book!
bedda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this was supposed to be scarier than it was. It had potential to be scary with The Dark Man and his family of zombie children, the spooky swamp and its inscrutable inhabitants, and the obvious terror of the characters but somehow it just didn¿t hit me. There were parts that were really creepy, especially toward the end, but I wouldn¿t say scary. At times it sort of slipped toward corny and that made it lose some of its horror bite. I was also waiting for all the pieces to fall into place and I don¿t think they ever really did. I understand there being mystery and magic around the events and I don¿t need to know how all the stuff happened. But I do think there are some things that need some explaining so they make sense within the context of the book. One of the main characters is just sort of plopped into this story. She is integral to the plot but where she came from, her connection to everything else, and the motivations for her actions are never explained. It felt like you were coming at the story from two angles but they never quite met in the middle. It was a fast read and there were some interesting ideas and scenes and could be kind of fun light, not-too-much-thinking sort of way but this book, my first John Saul, did not leave me in a hurry to read any more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best thriller/horror books I have read. Definitely check this out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an amazing book. I couldn't stop reading. It was just enough creepy and cool in one
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Couldn't put the book down.
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GammiChoo More than 1 year ago
love John Saul's books....
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