I went into this novella blind. I knew nothing about the story nor was I familiar with the author, Daniel Barnett. I thought the title sounded cool, Nightfall: Nightmareland Volume One. It has an ominous ring to it, doesn’t it?. And that cover art, done by the great Daniele Serra, is stunning. I had no expectations going into this and was completely blown away with both the storytelling and Barnett’s prose. This is my biggest surprise for the first half of 2020.
Unlike other post-apocalyptic books, there are no zombies here. No end of world scenarios due to nuclear fallout (at least that we know of). I am sure that this premise may have been done before but it felt fresh and different. Just think, how would you react if one morning you woke to watch the sunrise and as the twilight begins to brighten and that glowing sphere crests over the horizon it suddenly winks out. Gone. Lights out. You are suddenly and inexplicably plunged into pitch-black darkness as if someone flipped off that great lightswitch in the sky. Would you go into survival mode and do what you could to protect yourself and your family from the impending anarchy? Or would your sanity fracture as one of the few things in life that we as humans could depend upon, daylight, is no longer a guarantee?
We follow John Hawthorne. A silent brooding man who seems to have a closet full of skeletons. After the darkness falls John sets out to find maybe the one person on earth that he cares about, the local bartender, Mariah. On his journey, John encounters men and women who have reached their breaking point, people lingering on that sharp knife edge between staying sane and slipping into insanity. Not only does John have to deal with the threats and dangers of the here and now but it seems like the demons of his past may soon be snapping at his heels.
Being a volume one in a possible twelve-part series, Nightfall gives us a glimpse at society as it begins to crumble and devolve into madness under the dark sky above. Daniel Barnett’s prose is both beautiful and poignant, his words painting vivid, dark, and gruesome imagery across the page. We don’t get all the answers, and many mysteries are yet to be unveiled but this first chapter does feel like a complete story with a proper ending, though we do get a tease at what may be yet to come. The bar has been set high but if the future entries come close to being as good if not even better than Nightfall then we the readers are in for a truly epic apocalyptic story on a grand scale.
Mysterious and gripping, Nightfall by Daniel Barnett drips with gorgeously dark prose. Volume one is just the tip of the iceberg to a story much larger lurking in the shadows of this chaotic sunless landscape. I cannot recommend Nightfall highly enough and I am eagerly anticipating volume two of the Nightmareland Chronicles, Lullaby coming very soon.
I received an ARC from the author for review consideration.
Book reviewer & Booktuber who focuses mostly on small press & indie horror, sci-fi, fantasy, & southern literature.